Accidental PB

Each day I go to the gym, I record my progress using an app called FitNotes. It’s nothing special but it does allow me to remember the various weights I have reached on the equipment. (It also allows me to track my weight and measurements but that can get quite depressing so I’ll not dwell on that.)

A few of the routine things I do I can easily remember. Like I know I ride for 11.80 kilometres every morning on the bike and I lift 17.5 kilograms on the overhead press.

Sometimes, however, I think I know what I’m up to but then realise I’m actually wrong. That happened this morning.

I was seated on the leg press and adjusted the weight then started pushing. It felt quite difficult but I figured that was just because my legs were finding it difficult to wake up properly. Afterwards, as I entered the figures into the app, I realised I’d pushed an extra five kilograms.

I guess they all count and it will be my new benchmark.

In the real world, it rained today. All day. It was wet-fully delightful. And the temperature was a very civilised 17 degrees. I rather enjoyed it. As did the girls.

Glorious rain!

We did go for a walk though Freya was on the lead, but it wasn’t so hot that they needed water every 15 minutes. Emma could chase more balls too, without quite so many rest stops.

Back at home, the postman brought me a surprise.

Volume 1

I have decided to gradually print out our holidays from this blog. This is so that, whatever happens to the world, there will at least be a hard copy of them to read. It’s also fun to just skim through our holidays from years ago and laugh at our first attempts to enjoy France.

And when Mirinda came home, we both put on a fleece the temperature was so low. Oh, joy!

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Gymniversary II

Two years ago I started going to the gym. I celebrated today by going this morning and wearing myself out in a good way. But, the best news today was the weather.

The temperature dropped ten degrees overnight making this morning beautifully bearable and, while the day was blue and sunny, bright and summery, it was all at a reasonable 23 degrees.

The change in temperature was very welcome, particularly given I had to walk into town (after the gym and back and walking the girls) to get my hair cut in the afternoon. It was all very pleasant.

New me

It felt a lot better. Actually it would have felt even better yesterday while the heatwave was still with us but, there you go.

Possibly the worst news of the day was that Freya has started another season. I was a bit suspicious in the park when she squealed at a big white dog who was rather keen on her trouser area. Then a little black poodle was likewise displaying a more than friendly interest. Then, at home, the blood was starting to appear on things.

Poor baby. It means no more off lead for a bit. Mind you, the little black poodle was a toy and would have made some cute puppies with Freya…had it happened.

Another appearance was a little collection of baby tomatoes.

A few weeks ago, Gardener Dave spotted what he believed was a tomato plant starting to grow in one of the raised beds on the terrace. He asked Mirinda if she’d planted it. When she said no, he decided it had been randomly planted by a bird sitting in the tree next door.

Anyway, he staked it and it’s just kept growing. There was a slight risk that it could have been marijuana rather than tomato but that was completely dispelled this afternoon when I re-staked it and discovered a little collection of growing fruit.

Our first babies

Seriously bizarre and, as Dave said, quite rare. He reckons he’s tried growing tomatoes for years and they rarely work out and we have this beauty without any effort whatsoever. I told him he should feed tomato seeds to the birds and just wait…like we have.

Avenue of Trees

The Avenue of Trees looked particularly enticing today. That little white blob at the base of the second tree, just to the left of centre, is Freya.

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Just like Christmas

Today in Portsmouth I was once more given a different job. It’s like I’m working up the chain of tasks required to complete the project. Today it was going through the books off the Warrior.

Heather pointed to a whole load of books on the floor, opened a spreadsheet which listed them and told me to determine what would stay and what would go.

Gift wrapped words

Each little parcel contains a number of books, depending on the thickness of the book, obviously. As Heather said it would be just like Christmas and, given my love of maritime volumes, it almost was. By the end of the day I’d reduced this to about half the size. 

I often wonder if anyone else is working on the project because there’s no tangible evidence that there is. However, this pile will, presumably only be gone next week if other people are working on it. I’m thinking it’ll be no different.

The books arrived at Portsmouth with the Warrior. They were in various staterooms, cabins and general mess areas throughout the ship. No-one has looked at them for at least 20 years except to list them in the spreadsheet then wrap each pile with the location written on the wrapping. 

My job (today) was to determine how many copies we already have (these books are not on the database) and whether we ‘need’ another one or whether it needs to be retained. I soon had a big pile of books to go and a smaller one to stay.

Occasionally through the day, Heather came over to look through my not sure pile and remarked on how many I was chucking out. She said I was a lot more vigorous than she’d be. I said I could not be but she vehemently said I should continue. She said she was far too emotionally attached to ‘her’ books and they needed a strong will to part with them. It seems I was the person for the job.

I found some real gems as well as ones to go. One book that we did have a copy of but not so providential was one I insisted we keep. This was on the inside front cover:

Damn you, Adolf!

I’m sure it wasn’t meant to be funny but it did make me laugh. (Incidentally, while I have no idea what Hitler did to the society, I do know that there is another Liverpool Model Boat Society which was started in 1975 and, in 2015 at least, still going strong.)

And that was my day. Unwrapping glorious naval tomes and checking them off a list. Sounds dull but it was actually most edifying.

The photo below has nothing to do with anything much, I just like it.

Where I climb the ramp at Guildford Station every Tuesday
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Sucked in, Frank!

The gardeners came today. It’s amazing how much better the garden looks afterwards. They only stay till midday but it makes a world of difference.

Gardener Dave and Mike know the garden so well now (they treat it like their own…probably better) that they can almost work without orders. Not that I’d ever let them do that. I always have strict instructions from Mirinda detailing what they are to do when she’s not here. And she wasn’t here today.

They worked solidly, stopping only for iced water when the danger of dehydration approached. It was during one such watering that Dave told me about a guy they used have working for them. He didn’t mention his name so I’ll just call him Frank.

Frank was always keen to get out of work. He’d ‘steal’ other senior gardener’s helpers in order to make his days easier. This meant that Frank would sit in the van while his two workers did all the gardening. Dave said that the worst thing about this was when Frank ‘stole’ his helper, leaving him alone to work ridiculously long days. One day, however, Frank came a-cropper.

A new client was on the books and Frank was given the job. He grabbed a couple of helpers and set off for the address. He reached the street and, rather than knock on the door, he sent the helpers round the back to start work. He then settled himself in the van with the paper and a thermos of tea. A few hours later there was a knock at his window. It was the house owner just returning from the shops. She wanted to know what he was doing in her drive.

He climbed out of the van and, very pleasantly, explained that he was there doing her gardening, walking out the back with her to show the excellent work he’d done. He was a bit surprised when she said she hadn’t ordered any gardening and wouldn’t be paying for what they’d already done. Frank looked at her then looked down at his work order. He showed her the bit that said where, what and how the work had been placed.

The woman looked at Frank like he was an idiot.

This is number 14. Number ten is a couple of doors down,” She explained as if to a child.

My lunchtime view

The rest of the day was spent doing a few gardening jobs that they’d not had time to do, doing kitchen things and booking some exciting things to do in Spain. These included a flamenco night in Cadiz and some dancing horses in Jerez.

One of the kitchen jobs was to decant my latest batch of sauerkraut which turned out very well. I didn’t go with the juniper berries this time, settling on just peppercorns instead. Still tastes good. And, I think, photographed quite well.


By the end of the day I felt like I’d achieved quite a lot without getting too hot and sweaty. The puppies, naturally, were not so fortunate. Emma, in particular, exhausted herself running around the park after her tennis ball. It’s a good job I took a bottle of water for her because she drank most of it on her own. Freya, of course, doesn’t do quite so much running around being an incredibly lazy dog.

Dinner was leftover lo-carb cauliflower cheese from yesterday’s roast. It was delicious and went oddly well with a glass of Italian red wine.

Mmm, leftovers!
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A right pickle

I remember my grandfather making beetroot many years ago. He would boil them up in a big old saucepan then pickle them somehow. Like grandma’s pickled onions, the beetroot packed a mighty punch.

Well, this morning in Waitrose, I noticed they had bunches of fresh beetroot so, on spec, I bought one and, once home, I pickled my first batch.

Mind you, I didn’t actually cook the beets. I peeled, trimmed and cubed them. Then I warmed up a liquid mix of cider vinegar, filtered water, peppercorns and cloves before putting everything in a jar to sit, open on the work bench to cool down. It then went into the fridge.

Just before dinner I tested a piece. I really wish I’d bought a few more bunches.

Not too tart and nice and crunchy

Actually, there was a fair bit of cooking today. I wanted to try a baked egg in a courgetti spaghetti nest (a recipe I spotted on Instagram) so I did. We had one each for lunch along with our usual Chez Gaz salad. They were delicious. An excellent lo-carb idea and so easy to make. Of course I added cheese. And bacon.

Egg in a nest

Mirinda spent most of the day booking our flights and accommodation for Spain. I’m in charge of the spreadsheet and transport. The usual division of labour when it comes to holiday travel in our house.

As well as sourcing hotels, Mirinda also started putting together her Pixie garden in the old herb table. She has yet to get some dwarf conifers so she can create a wood in one corner but I reckon it’s coming along nicely. I particularly like the path.

A park for the Pixies

Apparently I have to build a little stone cabin for the Pixies to use in the wet.

For dinner I made Persian style roast chicken with lo-carb cauli cheese and griddled broccoli with a very chilled gazpacho soup beforehand. We also had a lovely, crisp French Chablis.

While I love Hygge in the winter months, eating al fresco on the terrace in Clive’s Corner is delightful as well.

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So much heat, so many flies

Today was mostly spent in the house with large chunks spent in the shade on the terrace. Between time spent in the shade on the terrace, Mirinda was working on her DBA and I was busy in the kitchen.

I’d promised to make a Paleo loaf for lunch so there was that to make. Actually I’d given Mirinda the choice of three (Paleo, walnut or crisp bread) and she went for the Paleo because we haven’t had any since returning from France.

As well as the loaf, I also zoozed up a batch of the orange tomato and almond soup  to have before dinner then made a new jar of sauerkraut. I also tried to eradicate a strange smell that has suddenly started issuing from the pantry cupboard.

I’d already tried to find it on the spice and cheese shelf but without luck. My next option was to try the Japanese and Christmas hamper cache. Again, this was not it. Tomorrow I will go to the top shelf where strange things have been stored since Chez Gaz first opened. Who knows what sort of genetic monstrosity I’ll find.

We did leave the house at one stage. Naturally this meant going to the garden centre but, a little further down the road, there’s a church I wanted to visit. It’s called St George’s and it’s in Badshot Lea.

Two weeks ago, during my WWI researches, I discovered that the parents of the sailor who died aboard HMS Hampshire wanted to put up a memorial to their son in their local church. The church was St George’s and had only been open since 1905. Given the bare walls, the vicar was probably delighted.

The database I’m working to grow has most of the Surrey memorials but not this one…which is why I wanted to visit the church. It can now be added to the database.

In St George’s, Badshot Lea

It feels like another little piece of life has been resurrected.

Then, of course, we popped up to the garden centre in order to buy an awful lot of stuff so Mirinda can work on more pots. We seem to have an awful lot of pots already but, clearly, not enough. And, of course, what would a pot be without a plant? We also bought a lot of plants.

The plants included a few alpines which Mirinda is getting a bit obsessed with. She has already bought a library full of books on them, some grit, some plants and had me fix up the old herb table.

And that was basically our day. I cooked walnut, dill and lemon crusted salmon while Mirinda took the dogs for a cooling walk along the River Wey at Tilford and we drank a beautifully chilled bottle of Auxey-Duresses, one of my favourite white wines.


Salmon with a crust over roasted vegetables

One thing I noticed at the garden centre that I don’t remember seeing here before was the proliferation of citronella products. From the small table candles (like we have) to big ones that stick in the ground and oil to put in special lamps, there was a lot of it.

This will be because of the plague of flies we’re currently experiencing. It would be fair to say that the excessive heat has brought out an excessive amount of flying insects. We left Australia to get away from these little flying bastards. It’s not fair that the gradual heating of the planet has meant they’ve followed us.

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Friday frustrates and satisfies

Woking looked decidedly beautiful today under the blue sky and blazing sun. That’s not an exaggeration. The sun is definitely blazing at the moment. It’s enough to send one up above the Arctic circle lickety split…if it wasn’t so hot one couldn’t move.

Heading down from the station

The road above has been closed off for quite a while (at least since I started at the Surrey History Centre) and now even the buses have been diverted while they relay the road outside the station. It’s remarkably peaceful…unless you happen to work at the station where the constant hammering of the big machines must be a bit annoying.

My researching was a bit of both types today; frustrating and satisfying. Most of the frustration came from the fact that there were an awful lot of Greens in Farnham at the turn of the 20th century. The fact that I had to search for a few specific Greens made it a case of going down one road, hitting a dead end and trying the next one. This was made even worse when Greens lived next door to each other.

However, for each frustration there was a a whole load of satisfaction. In fact, today I managed to fill in the lives of two families, one very much part of Farnham and the other a bit more international.

The international chappie was Dugald Stewart Gilkison. Born in India to a Scottish father and Indian born mother, the family ended up in Wimbledon. Stewart was educated at Rugby then graduated straight into Sandhurst for a bit of officer training.

He left Sandhurst as a 2nd Lieutenant, being promoted to a full Lieutenant a short while later. He was then sent out to South Africa just in time for the Boer War.

Captain Gilkison and his son, Stewart

While in South Africa, serving Queen and country, he met his future wife. Janet Kate Harcourt Vernon was the daughter of an Anglican vicar living in the Orange River Colony. I haven’t found out much about the good reverend (it’s outside my remit) but I imagine he was a missionary, sent out to bring the word and diseases of the white man to the heathen devils.

Back in Britain it wasn’t long before the good Captain (promoted in 1905) decided to settle in the Warren, Heath End, just up the road from central Farnham. Then war was declared and he set off for France leaving his wife and three kids in the house.

Then there’s the sad bit (of course). Dugald Stewart had a brother, James David. He was also a decorated officer in the British army. He was also sent out to France at the beginning of the Great War. He died in August 1914. A month later, Dugald also died.

I cannot imagine how anyone copes with this sort of tragedy. Presumably Dugald’s father took it all stoically but his mother, Margaret must have been absolutely devastated. To add to the general misery, their youngest, Joan, lost her husband not long afterwards.

Moving right along…I then researched the wonderfully named Hamilton Goodridge. 

Hamilton was born in 1896 in Shoreditch in London, as was the rest of his family – mother Emma, brothers Edward and John and little sister May. Why they all moved to Farnham is, to me anyway, a mystery. His father, Edward Goodridge was a confectioner by trade and he had a shop in Downing Street. So maybe he decided he could sell more confection in Farnham than he could in Shoreditch.

Whatever the reason, he had a shop. It was at 62 Downing Street which is now called Clarendon House and has an optician in it. Actually the optician has been there since 1935, something typically Farnham. Edward Goodridge, however, was not selling glasses. Given he was a confectioner, I imagine he was selling either cakes or sweets.

While poor Hamilton died in the war, his younger brother John did not. Now this is where I have to guess some stuff to make a connection. You see there is a menswear store in Downing Street. It’s called John Goodridge’s Menswear and has existed since 1927.

On the store’s website it states that the shop was previously further down Downing Street but became too small and so John (or Jack as he was known) moved up to bigger premises at 35-36. Now, Edward Goodridge died sometime before 1916 while Hamilton died actually in 1916. It’s not inconceivable therefore, to assume that John took over the family business and, eventually, turned it into a clothing shop.

Further investigation shows a John Goodridge marrying a woman called Edna Mabel Evelyn Harrington in 1929. His address at the time was 57 Downing Street and his occupation was Outfitter. I think it’s possibly the same person. (57 is now a hairdresser, by the way.)

Anyway, it was a lot more cheerful finding out about the history of a business rather than the death of a Farnham hero…though hero young Hamilton surely was.

I haven’t been able to find a photo of Hamilton Goodridge so I’ve included a second Woking shot, this time of the roadworks outside the station.

Road works
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Bye, bye Boris

This morning I had to take the girls to Kate for their ten week trim and, of course, Boris came with us. As usual he made friends with everyone we passed while the girls ignored the same everyone.

As we climbed the hill leading up from the stream, a French bulldog caught Boris’ attention. They were busy making friends so I kept walking. Eventually he’d been too long so I looked around and called him.

Boris!” I yelled and he almost immediately started running towards me. The French bulldog, almost as immediately, followed him.

When they both reached me, I patted Boris, telling him what a good boy he was. The French bulldog was looking for a bit of praise as well so I bent down and patted him.

Boris!” I suddenly heard from behind me. The two dogs left me and ran off again.

I turned to see a woman pushing a stroller full of twins. The two dogs were circling her eagerly. I looked at her and smiled.

Don’t tell me your dog is called Boris,” I said.

Yes,” She replied.

That explains it. So’s mine,” I laughed.

We walked together for a bit chuckling over the coincidence though I did say it would have been a better coincidence had we both had the same breed. She left us at the next exit, her Boris happily trotting along beside her.

We continued on our way towards the Hale exit where I had to hitch them all up for the walk along the roads. I’d been dreading this bit. It’s hard enough with the girls but adding on a big third dog makes it positively trepidatious.

I discovered that Boris isn’t very good walking on a narrow footpath beside a busy road. This made things even trickier but eventually and safely, we arrived at Kate’s where I left the girls. They may have sighed with relief as the door closed on Boris.

The walk back was a lot easier and Boris gladly went running off when I took his lead off.

Back at home there was a bit of emergency time shuffling needed as Susanne’s arrival shifted across the puppy collection. Eventually everything slotted together and, after Kate kindly dropped the girls home, Susanne collected everything together and also left, walking to the station with a reluctant Boris in tow.

A relieved Emma

The girls looked at me, Emma looked up at the park, Freya wagged her tail. How could I resist? I took them up the park for a short run around in the shade of the avenue of trees.

Freya looking for Boris

Back at home I made a frittata using up all the leftovers I had in the fridge. Given I hadn’t been shopping all week and Mirinda was coming home, this was the best option. And, if I do say so myself, it turned out pretty good.

Leftover Frittata

I feel I should mention that we didn’t meet any more dogs called Boris for the rest of the day and Susanne made all her train connections. I can only assume that she also managed to find Rafi.

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Fennel falling

Today, upon our return from the park, Boris was so thirsty that he tried to swim in the water feature. I didn’t manage to get a shot of him with his front paws submerged in the bowl but I did get him trying to eat the water bubbling out.

This video has convinced Susanne to have a water feature installed in her new garden.

While on the subject of water…the torrential rain on the weekend claimed a victim in the garden. This was how the fennel looked a few weeks ago…

It was in the wrong place. It would have fared a little better being up against the fence and, in fact, that’s where it started years ago, but when things plant themselves they don’t always know best. Subsequently this is how it looked at the beginning of the week.

Collapsed fennel

I tried to straighten it up but the top heavy thing wouldn’t have it. I cut the whole thing back prior to uprooting it. Cutting back a fennel has to be one of the more enjoyable garden tasks given the delightful smells.

Plants aside (I also fixed the wild rose to the arch a little more firmly) the day was basically spent looking after Boris. He doesn’t seem to get the idea that the garden is better staying outside the house as he dags bits and pieces into the extension on an almost hourly basis.

He also has no idea what time to get up in the morning. This morning, for instance, I was suddenly shocked to full wakefulness when he decided to poke me in the face with his cold, wet nose.

Being a big dog, his head is level to mine when I’m lying down. He’d clearly decided he’d had enough sleep and wanted to go to the toilet and figured the only way to accomplish this was to wake me up. At least he didn’t bark. The cold, wet nose alarm is slightly better.

Leaving the girls asleep on the bed, I took Boris downstairs where he immediately went up the back of the garden to go to the toilet. His toilet training has been very good though he doesn’t cock his leg like normal male dogs (and our two) rather he squats. I have no idea how you train a dog to do that.

While Boris was outside, I looked at the clock on the wall. It was just before 5am. I collapsed onto the lounge and snoozed for a bit, gradually joined by two cockerpoos.

The rest of the day was spent recovering from the morning alarm.

The walk in the park was the highlight of our day with Boris making lots of new friends and generally having fun. He did manage to snatch a tennis ball off a poodle which I managed to retrieve from his mouth and return. Then, in a strange act of deference, he chased an overweight cocker spaniel which was, in turn, chasing its own tennis ball. Boris reached the ball ahead of the spaniel but just sat in front of it, waiting for the other dog to pick it up. Very peculiar.

I also noticed today that Boris is showing Emma due deference. I don’t how she’s managed it but he lets her eat and drink first and generally gives her plenty of space. Not so poor Freya but then no-one ever shows poor Freya deference which is probably why she spends so much time on my lap.

Three explorers

Our walk through Badger Wood caused a lot of excitement as all three dogs went exploring and running around like children on red drink.

Today was the last full day with our house guest as Susanne is returning for him tomorrow at lunchtime. While I won’t miss the cold nose in the face anytime soon, I’ll miss his big dog cuddles.

Boris and me

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I didn’t go to work today because Heather had a day off and wasn’t sure who’d be in the library to look after me. So, first thing, it was up to the gym then back home. Susanne took Boris for an early walk then took off for her child-dog-free couple of days just before 10 o’clock. Then it was just the four of us.

It would be fair to say that I’m not used to big dogs. Boris is big and, because he’s young, quite gallumphy. He lumbers up the stairs and almost crashes down them. He sometimes puts his front paws on my shoulders and tries to hug me. He’s also quite affectionate. I think if he could get on my lap he would.

He reminds me of Rodney next door back when Rodney was less than a year old.

Boris is surprisingly easy to look after. He just wanders around then chases his tail for a bit then lies down to recover then it all starts again. He’s no trouble at all as long as you keep an eye on his tail which swooshes and slaps without any consideration for objects in its way.

Freya is a bit wary of Boris though Emma feels that she has asserted her territorial dominance enough to convince him to pay her due deference – not that he does. It’s quite funny to watch.

The one thing I was really concerned about with Borisitting was how he’d go in the park off-lead. I needn’t have worried. He is very obedient. He might wander off a bit absentmindedly (a bit like Feya) but comes back as soon as you call him. I didn’t really want to take him for a ‘walk’ attached to his lead so this made me very happy.

He is also very good with other dogs – big and small – he just loves making friends.

Boris in the Avenue of Trees

One of his best character traits is the fact that he barks only when he really needs to. I was a bit concerned that he would go off whenever Emma decided to carry on but, apart from an initial bit of curiosity, he ignores her. Just like Freya does.

So, the day passed easily enough and, eventually, we all settled down to watch some TV ahead of going to bed.

I didn’t feel happy leaving him downstairs so I let him sleep on his matt in the bedroom. At first he wanted to sleep on the bed with the girls but as this meant there wasn’t any room for anyone else, we all decided the floor was the better option.

Boris almost on his mat

Actually, Boris was outvoted and didn’t have a veto.

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