Ennerdale Jinx

17 July 2014

My progress with the Wainwrights has got to the point where I have seven left to do. I had hoped to be sending a different type of posting about this sometime over the weekend, but once again the weather has conspired against me. I’d sorted out that I would go round to the Ennerdale Youth Hostel about three weeks ago, and pre-booked everything. The plan was to do the Pillar group tomorrow and visit the six remaining in a big blast, and then go round to Eskdale on Saturday morning to go up Green Crag, and that would have been the lot.

The Mountain Weather forecast for tomorrow is talking about 45mph wind gusts. This is too strong to stand up in, and as a consequence I have cancelled, and am sat here at home with the cricket on. The forecast for Saturday is similarly bad, with torrential rain and thunder mentioned.

I’ve managed to get a partial refund from the YHA, which is some consolation. Next week we have friends coming, which is smashing, and the following week we have booked to go away in the caravan with Baxter, who is coming to stay for a while. I think there might be an opportunity to have another go the following week, possibly with Baxter, but I shall have to wait and see.

How annoying!

Hard Times

28 January 2014

Hard Times.

The idea for this uttering came to me whilst I was sat on a beach on the island of St Maarten, in the Caribbean, a place where we were yesterday. It was a beautiful afternoon, the sun was shining, and we had a bucket full of ice and now empty Corona beer bottles together with some lime pieces for shoving into the bottles. I think the temperature was about 33C, really quite warm, and the sunlight was all reflecting off the clear blue tropical water in a manner straight out of all the Pirates of the Caribbean films, which were made around here. Quite an idyllic scene, and one which will stick with me for a long time.

I had brought with me to the beach a paperback book which I am currently reading. I actually didn’t get the book out of the bag at all, but when I got back and tipped everything out I realised that it had come with me. Last year my daughter bought me, on two separate occasions, a selection of paperbacks published by Penguin in their English Library series. These were all reissued during 2013, with delightful new covers. There was discussion between us as to what I would like, and I suggested some classical authors that I would be interested in.

I think that people who know me imagine that I have read extensively within the “good” fiction oeuvre. I actually think I am less well read than I ought to be, as a good thriller with an interesting plot and a fast moving narrative drive will always tempt me. On occasions I have given up on classical novels. Somewhere at home is a copy of Henry James “The Ambassadors” which I made, over several years, a number of attempts to read, but each time losing the will to carry on after about eighty pages. Similarly, there is a quarter read copy of “The Mill on the Floss” on the “to be read” pile in my office, next to the “Alexandra Quartet” paperback all-in-one volume which I got cheaply at some bazaar or something. It was obviously unread when I got it and now has a bookmark stuck in at about page thirty.

So I thought there was a delicious irony in reading Dickens’ “Hard Times” in these luxurious circumstances. Previously I had only read “Pickwick Papers”, and that a long time ago. I have enjoyed the book greatly, in particular the way it is set out in three sections, and also the characterisation of the main people. I also have with me a copy of “The Mystery of Edwin Drood” and “The Secret Agent” by Joseph Conrad. I think a change of author is called for next.

Silly Boy – A Postscript

1 November 2013

I have written previously about the aggravation caused to me by those people who hacked my email account. I did think that I had got everything sorted out when I reset the password not long after it happened. Subsequently I realised that I was still having some issues with my email account, particularly with replies to emails I had sent where I had specifically asked for something. On a number of occasions I chased up people who I had asked for something, to be told that they had sent the reply immediately after they got the original email. On a couple of occasions things got a bit strained as a result of my chasing up, and those who know me would appreciate that I do like things to be in order. Eventually a friend of mine rang and said that the emails I was sending had a return email address which was like my own address, but with a different suffix, the domain name bit at the end. This seemed to be an indication of the cause of the problems, with people clicking on the reply to button on the emails I had sent and dispatching replies to another email account, one which I had no control over or access to.

I went into the settings page on my email account and dug around. There was a setting for the “reply to” email address. It wasn’t my own address but this other one. This must have been changed as a part of the hacking, and it meant that someone was presumably monitoring these reply emails in the hope of getting sensitive or financial information. So I’ve now changed the reply to address back to my own email account. I also sent an email to Microsoft, the owners of the domain for the hackers’ email account, told them what had happened, and asked them to do something about this. To their credit, the email account was deleted straight away, and now anyone trying to send anything to this account immediately gets a very satisfying return message from the server saying this account has been disabled. The final part of the jigsaw was to send a round robin email to my contacts (I had to rebuild my contact list as the hackers deleted this) to try and explain what had happened and to ask people to make sure that the email address that people had for me was the correct one.

I hope that this has moved this saga on to a point where I can say that it is finally sorted out. Of course, all this was caused by my clicking on a link in an email message which I shouldn’t have done, and I’ve been even more careful since this happened. So it was really all my own fault!

Something Wrong

26 October 2013

There was an article in the local paper here the other day which I found deeply disturbing.

The Westmorland Gazette reported that plans to build some affordable housing in Ambleside, a much needed resource in this part of the world, have been scuppered by local residents. There were plans to build a small development in a field at the end of a cul-de-sac. A lot of work had taken place, a developer and builder found, and most importantly planning permission from both the Local Authority and the National Park had been given. All this had taken about four years. The owners of houses in the road have now clubbed together and bought the land, and stopped the process in its tracks. The land will now be used to make back gardens bigger.

My reaction was, and remains, one of outrage. This is precisely what is wrong with this country. There is a desperate shortage of affordable housing up here, and this was a rare chance to try and make amends. Apparently two of the houses in the road are actually holiday lets and not even occupied full time. Another is a second home. What has happened is the usual, “not here, somewhere else, please” attitude. This is the trouble with having a middle class with time on its hands. The only reason the British Empire got to be as big as was is because people had to worry about the next meal and their family, rather than worry about having “undesirables” living close by.

The same thing is driving the push to cancel the HS2 rail link. It is a deeply undesirable feature of the British psyche. The original railway to the North was built before planning regulations were required, all the builders had to do was pass sums of money to rich landowners to buy the strip of land, and then pay peasants a pittance to do the digging. No worrying about health and safety, the lesser spotted toads, and no middle class to moan.

I despair of this place. Coming back to Ambleside, perhaps the local authority should compulsorily purchase the land and push the development through. Or alternatively, put in some deeply unpleasant factory, perhaps an incinerator or the like. Preferably one that would involve lorries going up and down the road at all times of the day and night.

Something Right

26 October 2013

I think that I have actually done something right, for a change. I have managed to switch gas and electricity suppliers and get a fixed rate deal at the pre-increase rates. There was an article on Radio Four the other day, the Moneybox programme, I think, saying that people who are on a variable tariff with their energy supplier should look for a fixed rate deal, and do it promptly. We were on a variable contract with Sainsbury’s energy, having come out of a fixed tariff period. I found courtesy of the Go compare website a deal with Scottish Power, offering a fixed rate for a year and a half, and at pre-increase rates. So this seems to be happening, and emails have started to flow. Interestingly, I have today received a letter from Sainsbury’s announcing their price increase, and offering me the chance to fix, but at the increased rate. So it’s off the Scottish power we go, having previously been their customers for several years, until I left when they couldn’t offer a good deal. One of the challenges which occurred when I moved previously was that I started to receive phone calls from the customer retention team, some of which were quite aggressive. So we shall see how this all pans out this time.

Rain and More Rain

22 October 2013

There has been a pause, but life continues. The replacement Alarm Engineer came and went, as promised, and with a phone call in advance to remind us that he was coming. The even better news was that the bill from the new people is much less than the other lot charged, so that is excellent.

I was recently over at the railway for the weekend. This coincided with their “Railway at Wartime” weekend, a local event which has been going for a long time and provides a much needed boost to the railway and the local businesses. A lot of the visitors dress up in period clothing, and many of them go to a lot of trouble with their appearance. On the Saturday morning the first train to Whitby broke down, and the knock on effect of this was felt all day, with trains being cancelled and some passengers cold, wet, and angry. All in all it was a very stressful time for all the volunteers who give their time, including me, and I have to say it was the worst day I have had there. The communication from the management after this event has been quite poor, non-existent in fact, and this has annoyed me a little, as you would imagine.

We have a bit of a problem with the old Discovery which we use for towing the caravan. There is a problem with the clutch. The car is drivable, in fact I came back from the railway in it, but the gear changing isn’t right, and our favourite garage suggested that local journeys only was the way to go. It is booked in, but they’re busy and it can’t go in for a couple of weeks. So we have effectively stopped driving it, and seem to be in an experiment about whether just using the one car will work. I will report in due course.

The weather forecast for Saturday is not bad. I had a bit of an idea that I would go round to Ennerdale and attempt to do the Pillar group of Wainwright fells. I have spent a lot of time this morning with the map and making calculations about distance and total ascent. The plan was to be dropped off at Ennerdale and picked up at Honister, for those who know the area. I have reached the conclusion, reluctantly, that this is too much for an oldie like me to do in one go and in safety. There is no leeway, and frankly, if I got delayed I’d be out in the dark and not very popular. It’s not that I can’t navigate in the dark, just that I’ve realised that this would be a silly and dangerous thing to attempt at this time of year. Being a holder of the BMC Mountain Leader Award does count for something, so I’ve put this on hold. There are two youth hostels in Ennerdale, including the famous Black Sail Hut, and I’m going to have to go back to my original plan and organise a trip that involves staying in one or both of them. This will make for a shorter distance and much safer day. The trouble is that Black Sail is closed for refurbishment for a while. So I’m now looking at whether I can get around into Eskdale, where there are three Wainwrights I need to do, with a less challenging programme. I’ll also need to have a talk with Management about the shape of the day as well, as she was originally going to come with me and act as transport.

Referring back to yesterday’s adventures in poor service, I was telephoned during the afternoon by the errant alarm engineer. He was full of apologies, and his usual pleasant self. He had simply forgotten and gone to another job. How anyone doing this sort of thing can’t manage a diary is beyond me. Did I want to reschedule the appointment? No thank you. I now have a slot booked with another lot. These are a larger organisation, based in Kendal, whose vans I have seen driving about. They have an ACD ( you know, press one for sales, etc.,) and a switchboard. Obviously much better organised, I hope. I’m sure I will let you know in due course.