A few hours ‘down in the dumps’

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I don’t claim to be manically happy all the time but I usually manage to keep myself occupied and contented during my waking hours. Today, the vibes were different. I was very much missing the lively intellectual and cosmopolitan atmosphere of London and down here in sleepy Somerset the New Year momentum is still scarcely perceived. My wife went to art classes in the morning while I took my apparently ailing computer to Terry, my wonderful wizard of computers who does all sorts of magic with PCs and laptops in a room the size of the cupboard.

However, the day was glorious and we decided to go out after lunch not quite sure what we were going to do. I went to pick up my computer that in the event had nothing wrong with it. I wonder if computers have moods. I turned it on and plugged it in this way and that and did everything  I could think of last night and it stubbornly refused to turn on after suddenly dying on me. So what happens? Terry plugs it in and it works first time. He could not reproduce the non-functioning mode that I was suffering such anxiety about. However I must admit at the same time it was a relief to be without a computer and finding an environment which relied more on me  actually doing things.

We set off to Mells after lunch to find our favourite local cafe occupied by a horde of cyclists so we decided to take off and stock up with logs for our humble abode. There is nothing more therapeutic than the sight of very Merry log fire, many more times romantic than staring at a radiator. We set the GPS to Longleat, adjacent to which there is a very large yard that sells hardwood and softwood conveniently chopped up into lengths that fit in our very small but effective fire. The cost for this do-it-yourself operation is about £14.50 for 100 kg. If you want to buy hardwood that is dry then it’s about a tenner more per hundred kilograms. I would rather buy the cheaper ones and let them dry over a period of 3 to 4 weeks.

We bought £23 worth of logs which we threw in the back of the car. The whole amounted to 160 kg plus some kindling, three packs at £10 which will keep us going until the end of the season. How do they know how much you have taken? You drive over a ramp, the car is weighed, you fill up and the car is weighed again. It’s a very country thing. The alternative in towns is to buy small nets of dry logs – maybe seven or eight small logs for £5 – or have them delivered by the load for about £80 per cubic metre. We prefer the DIY route as we can choose each individual one.

Cley Hill

Adjacent to the area is Cley Hill which by the way is west of Warminster in Wiltshire. It is owned by the National trust. I thet includes an Online Age hill fort, two burrows and medieval strip lynchets.  If you want to visit it, you will find a small and fairly untidy car park at the base. It is not a major tourist attraction unlike Warminster itself. It was also the place where my previous wife and I scattered the ashes of our son John Peter who died at the age of three. He had had a heart condition since he was born and had an operation at three days but not much longer. We lived in London at the time and became very familiar with Great Ormond Street Hospital, Ward 1A was the heart department in those days.

I read recently that the hospital returned the sum of £500,000 to a fundraising event because someone thought that women might have been touched inappropriately. Excuse me, I thought it was individuals that should be brought to justice, not huge crowds of people who were glad to give £2000 per head for an evening of fun. So far as I can understand, everyone consented to be there of their own free will and no harm was done.

I remember scattering the ashes among gorse bushes but when I last looked the bushes had disappeared for some reason. Time marches on and I’m sure his soul is resting in peace or perhaps has already made an appearance in another body or in another planet, who knows.

We celebrated the evening by having a roaring fire and watching the excellent Arte TV with a documentary about second-hand clothes disposed of or sold again in parts of Africa, hamburgers made with bugs i.e. insects and the attempts to sell them to Germany, and finally the favorite foods of Portugal. At a further session, we watched the development of high-speed video games, and the science of tattoos.

What a relief to have no advertisements.

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