We took the van for a run out the other day.

The dog’s moustache matches the rust around the wheel arches.

Apple Mac

I’ve had PCs since the very beginning, since a time when I didn’t know anyone else who had one.

I went through the evolution of XT, 286, 386, 486, 486DX, various Pentiums and AMDs before eventually losing interest in building computers. I still have a desktop PC, with a recent memory and hard drive upgrade, but I no longer build or buy a new computer on an annual basis.

In the late 80s/early 90s, a PC was pretty expensive, but the most affordable computer. Excluding the 8/16 bit machines that plugged in to a TV.

The Apple Mac had a cooler image, but the screen was an inch or two smaller and the cost prohibitive.

My first PC, an ‘Turbo’ XT clone cost £475. That bought a machine that ran at a maximum of 12Mhz, had a huge 640k memory and a single 5.25 inch floppy drive. A 10MB hard drive was added later at the bargain price of £90.

My second PC, a 286, ran at 16Mhz. It had a whole 1MB memory, a 40MB hard drive and a 3.5 inch floppy drive. Since I already had a monitor, I snapped it up for just £400. That would have been around 1990.

That 286 ran MS-DOS 3.3; the XT came with DR-DOS to save money. I’d experimented with the GEM graphic interface, but it ran slowly and I opted for the cruder DOS command prompt.

It was a couple of years later, after building a 386 PC, that I tried Windows 3. It wasn’t great, but it was miles better than Windows 2.

Of course, the Apple Mac was around at the time, with a much friendlier interface. But it was costly at over twice the price of a decent PC. And there was limited potential for upgrades.

In all honesty, cost was the main reason I avoided the Apple Mac. Until now, that is. Picked up on eBay for a bargain price, a Mac Classic. Just 30 years old.

As I said, it was cheap. It’s also very, very slow.

Apple tree

I’ve a thing about apple trees. I had a great one in the garden of my old house (until my ex cut it down).

I planted one in the garden of our current abode a few years ago; even made a really good batch of cider from it two of three years back.

However, last summer’s project (a summer house) takes up a larger than expected piece of the garden. The summer house only exists as foundations right now, since pub and garden life don’t work well together.

Still, with a new LID* for the summer house of August this year, a decision needed to be made as to whether the foundations should be reduced in size or the apple tree removed.

Sadly, concrete is tougher than tree, so the apple tree is no more.

Yes, I know the garden’s a bit of a state.

Watch strap

My first watch arrived via Green Shield Stamps; I’d have been around five years old. I recall that, at that age, I had a vague conception of time, but was unable to consistently tie my shoelaces.

It was a Timex watch, with a white face and a black leather strap. Something like this one (found on eBay), although I don’t recall it being water resistant.

Anyway, the watch had a short life. I remember falling down the stairs in an attempt to fly (I’d had recurring dreams involving flights down the stairs. These always involved a safe take-off and landing). The face of the watch cracked in the way a watch face cracks on impact at the bottom of a flight of stairs.

I was probably around six years old when we’d accumulated enough Green Shield Stamps to acquire another (identical) timepiece.

This watch had a longer life, a couple of years or more. The strap wore out though, so a replacement was needed.

My grandmother (paternal) bought a new strap. It was beautiful. I chose it myself. Silver leather rather as opposed to the original black. Hong Kong 1960s fashion at its best.

After a couple of weeks, the silver finish had worn off, leaving a muddy brown strap. I remember feeling regret that I’d not opted for a more sympathetic replacement.

There’s a point to this. On the right of the picture below; the watch shop where the strap was purchased in 1968. In Auckland.

Green Shield Stamps.


The dog appears to have developed stair anxiety. If there’s such a thing.

She loves stairs and takes every opportunity to climb new heights. However, around a week ago, she refused to use the stairs. In an upward direction, that is.

Since she sleeps upstairs, that means I need to carry her upstairs each evening. She’s not a large dog, but is very heavy for her size.

I’ve tried leaving her, but she simply lies at the bottom of the stairs, looking miserable (of course, that’s a human interpretation of her feelings). The same happens during the day. Since (almost) leaving the Pub, the hound and I have been spending a lot more time together. Before her sudden change in behaviour, she’d follow me everywhere. But now she only follows me as far as the bottom of the stairs.

Meanwhile, the outcome is that, while I continue to encourage her to use the stairs again, I continue to carry her upstairs each evening. With some difficulty.


My reduced, voluntary, hours at the Schooner means I’ve time to do things I’d planned for some time ago.

While I appreciate that this is going to be a lengthy project, likely to be interrupted by others, I’ve finally made a start on the kitchen.

Yes, the existing kitchen units look fine, but they were fitted 17 years ago and, on close inspection, are showing a lot of wear.

New doors would have been an easy option, but I really want to try to build some freestanding units.

Rust eruption

The winter hasn’t been kind to the van.

The rust was there when we bought the van, almost a couple of years ago. But, inevitably, it’s now burst through the paint. There are some other, less obvious, patches too.

Time to order some paint.


After leaving the Civil Service, I’d planned several projects. Some were actually completed before buying into the Schooner, but some important ones weren’t started.

Now that I’ve pulled out of the pub, one small project has been completed. Wardrobes in the spare room.

Of course, the room now needs to be decorated before I can start something else. Around 18 months later than planned, the kitchen’s next.