when the world remembers you exist, and why haven’t you done job x or y yet? This year, today was the day.

The first was a customer wanting a job two days early. Now he had ordered months in advance, and we were ready to ship for the day requested. But I’ve so much on at present that bringing forward is actually very tricky.

Then another one wanted news on an order, which I could not give him – my colleague on vacation is responsible for that, and then another one came forward asking about an old order, and if it were not made, could he change it?

I keep an electronic log book, and record every interaction – it proves very helpful. And I keep the emails, but they don’t always hold the whole story, and in any case sometimes difficult to search.There have been work days where not one entry has been made, and I’d hazard that this year has had by far the most of such days.

All this isn’t helped by the utter exhaustion I have felt this year. I really can spend all morning in bed. A few years ago, I’d be up before dawn midsummer walking by the banks of the Thames. There are previous blog enteries here to show that. Now, it’s as much as I can do to get up at all.

And I think it is my exhaustion which lies behind the trap described above, that is people leaping on me for not being ready etc regarding work.

And then I have the car to work on – feeling exhausted before I start. Currently waiting for a part from MB that was hiding in an unheard of MB dealership in Germany to be shipped to me.

A few quick ones.

July 14, 2015

I’ve often started writing an entry, but never completed it, or it was too short. But then I came across a blog where the author had the same issue, but he just tagged two or three random ones together to make an entry. So why not? And the blog title – taken from a Wodehouse book of short stories.

Holiday Jam. (A timely entry)

This was a specific brew, made from fruits from the garden of my childhood (and present) home, before we went on holiday to SE Devon. Principally it was made of Loganberries, but would include, from over the years, Rhubarb, Gooseberries, Redcurrants, Strawberries, possibly an Apple (Discovery) and maybe others. Sour cherries (Morello) probably were not included, as I think it would have been too early for them. But the vital point was that it was made in mid July, too early for most fruit, and I stress, just from the garden – well, not the sugar.

Usually we managed to make 3 or 4 pots of the jam, a couple of days before we set off.

In the early years, brother and I would be in blankets at 05:00 in the back seats of Mini (the original 1959 type), our “toys” in the side pockets and meals in bags/boxes between us, everything from 06:30 coffee in flasks to mid afternoon tea. Without motorways, that is how long it took, especially trying to avoid traffic black-spots.

The Holiday Jam would be first opened on the Sunday morning, the first morning in whatever caravan we were in, served with toast. From Monday onwards, there was the possibility of cooked Mackeral with toast, caught from a village improbably called Beer, where traders hired out inboard motor boats for tourists to go line fishing.

It was my experience of making this jam that meant that when I had a chance to make some raspberry jam a few years ago (as recorded in this blog), I was able to do it successfully without the paraphernalia apparently needed for modern jam making.

Yet another musical physicist
These days, I’m essentially an engineer in my day-to-day life, but I have a background and some training – sadly ill-used – in music. It has lead to some odd situations, as if odd situations don’t hunt me down.

This time I was invited back to a friend’s place in the Uni Hall of Residence after an evening at the bar. I don’t recall quite how we got to this situation, but the coffee and brandy were flowing, and he must have known my background to some extent. So he put on a record, and challenged me to name the composer. It wasn’t easy, I didn’t know the work, but eventually I decided it was essentially Handel, but with a more recent spin, to use the current terminology. Arranged Elgar, I suggested?

As it turned out, I was absolutely correct. “I’m impressed” my friend said, clearly was. He didn’t realise that the science departments were able to raise string quartets, bands, and in one case a science facilty small orchestra. Though things are bad if I end up in the first Violins.

There have been few musicians interested in science, but on one occasion I took a couple through a tour of my department, which impressed them. Especially the X-ray diffraction, which I had painfully learnt how to orientate metal crystals by reading the X-ray photos – so was able to bore on with impressive bluffing.

Imperial 66
I have it on good authority that people now blog from their mobile phones. I struggle to imagine how they manage on such a tiny keyboard. I grew up on real type-writers, such as the Imperial 66. Indeed, while at Uni, there were plus points for type-written reports as opposed to hand-written.

I well remember the night I put aside to type my first (typed) report. The Imperial 66 I purchased for £45 (how expensive!), was set up, me thinking it would take me literally all-night. Despite the mistakes, with tipp-ex paper to hide some of them, it was 03:00 by the time I finished, and gladly sank into bed.

I still have it, and although the usage has decreased, it is still in weekly use. Perhaps 15 years ago one woman, seeing my typed airwaybill said “that’s an old-fashioned type-face”. I was surprised as she was quite young. Only last month did typing waybills finally fall off its rota, serial numbers on thin metalised labels are the last remaining redoubt.

Rhododendron Ponticum

May 22, 2015

(Stock photo from Google)

(Stock photo from Google)

The hills are alive with the purple of this Rhododendron. When my favoured route to Tescoville used to run through Slough, this time of year one really was driving through groves of this stuff, purple on both sides of the road. My favoured route has changed, and while it’s not quite as common, it’s still very notible.

Favoured route here means a route to take when the M25 is completely clogged up, which is most weekday evenings.

A couple of years or so ago, at this time of the year, a group of us went to a car breaker based in Yorkshire. One of the group looked up at the hills and admired the colour of the Heather – so I had to correct him in that the colour now was Rhododendrum runaways, Heather didn’t come out until August. For reasons of my father being a Beekeeper, and one year I helped out in a general treck taking the bees up to the Heather moors (in the late 1980s), I knew the Heather starts in August. Bees are taken there partly as the main crop in the South of England has ended, and partly because Heather Honey is widely praised. It also has some interesting physical properties – it is thixotropic, for a start. Hum, interesting rare word used in English containing the letter “x”…I digress.

It is amazing just how invasive plants have come to dominate some areas. (This is also true for insects and even some Deer species). Red Valarian is a pest in Tescoville, as indeed is Japanese Knotweed, I remember seeing it in the town centre in the 1970s, and it was a pest then!. Fortunately the latter is nowhere near anywhere of my responsibility, though there are enough other pests to keep me occupied. I did try and kill off a clump when I rented a house in Cambridge, but wasn’t there long enough to know whether I’d even killed off the lot in the garden let alone everywhere else in the area. Rhododendron is a pest in the woodland in the greater Tescoville area, but also all around the country.

An Embarrassment

May 16, 2015

At the moment, I have more than once source of embarrassment – apart from my spelling that is. (I had to check the spelling of the title, and it was wrong for the usual reasons my spelling is wrong – a wrong vowel, and didn’t double one of the constenants. But I’ll discuss the current worse one.

I have an invitation to a 3 day symposium to honour my former supervisor’s 70th Birthday. It’s in the summer. I have seen the speaker list, and it is packed with people I knew well while I was studying. They are all now high-flyers in their field. I’ve not seen the list of attendees, but guess that’ll be packed with many more. Now there is more than one reason I strongly hesitate to even acknowledge the emails. What is worse, as I’m invited, I don’t need to pay the symposium fees (other than a Dinner). I cannot even plead poverty!

Firstly, I’d fall asleep in the lectures. I would do that when I was an undergraduate, so add thirty odd years, and I’ll be out like a light in seconds. And unlike my undergrad days, I probably won’t understand a word that was said, and thus trying to make notes (the only way I kept awake) more than pointless.

Secondly, I’m now just a dowdy manufacturer, who has supplied equipment to a few of them. If I showed up, they’d think I was there to try and flog tackle. I could not make any useful contrubution to the symposium.

Thirdly, a few of those who might attend are no longer friends of mine – that is to say some I’d like to throttle, some I’d just prefer we never met again.

What is worse is that I’ve kept in contact with said supervisor, helped him and his group out on various occasions, such as supplying goods at cost price (in the forelorn hope of future orders), and including a recent one involving a third party company, whom we would not supply as we doubted we’d ever be paid (that condition still exists). But by our friendship etc, a solution was arrived at, and they got their equipment that otherwise they would have lost their deposit over.

So I’ll be damned if I go, and damned if I don’t. Wonderful.

In the film ‘The Blues Brothers (1980)’, one of the many chase scenes involves the by now crippled ex-police car of the brothers being chased by Illinois Nazis. They run through road-works, and end up at at the end of a partially constructed roadway – they literally run out of road, and the car hangs over the edge.

(Screensave from DVD of ‘The Blues Brothers (1980)’. I know how they felt at this moment…

I know how they felt. I’ve been in that position of hovering over the edge. They had an easy way back (‘Movie magic’). The other really famous situation of this kind was the (almost literally) cliff-hanger ending to the original ‘The Italian Job (1969)’, with Michael Caine’s famous last words
“Hang on lads, I’ve got a great idea,”

Many years ago, in Germany on business, in a ‘company car’ (in fact one of the directors, loaned to me). I was not in my car, on the grounds that my then 20-year-old Volvo wasn’t up to the job (sic). Never had power steering, the servo for the brakes had failed (but still passed the MOT, the brakes worked). Anyhow, due to the Bayreuth festival, hotels in that town were sold out months in advance, so we found ourselves out, literally, in the middle of nowhere. My companion was a younger man of dubious sexuality – such that I slept on the floor on the first night out, in Heidelberg, he had the bed in the only room we could find that day.

This was despite his attempts earlier in the day – although he had had plenty of offers of a bed from [or more probably with] various women (sometimes plural) he approached in the attempt to find somewhere (only I was in tow…) He certainly was a ‘Buon Uomo’ (if I’ve got that right), and would top up his sun-tan at every possible moment. But these offers were further complcated by the fact that we needed secure parking for the car at that time, because of the goods we were carrying.

His navigational skills were notible by their absence. At one point, earlier in the day in question, we found ourselves in the then still existing East Germany. Since the car was travelling TIR, and we were now in a country not listed on the forms, we’d be in trouble if anything when wrong.

So late this night, with his at best iffy navigational skills, I found that I had to do a 3 point turn. Only I didn’t succeed – there was a ditch rather close to the road, and the car ended up askew nose down in the ditch, at 2 O’Clock in the morning.

It is not hard to imagine my feelings at this point. After a lot of swearing, I don’t recall that I used Michael Caine’s exact words, but certainly a precis of them…

As I looked at the situation, I thought I found a way out. By jacking the car up on one side, enough to put the spare wheel under the chassis, would equalise the problem (so long as it didn’t slide down further). That worked. So getting my colleague to stand on the rear bumper, and jump up and down, while I, in the driver’s seat, tried to reverse – it worked – the car pulled itself out, scraping along the spare wheel.

The alternative would have been walking to a farm, getting the farmer up, to get his tractor out and pull the car out of the ditch. Fortunately my colleague spoke good German, so there was not that hurdle to overcome, but I didn’t look forward to the prospect.

This ‘getting a car out of a ditch at two am with a spare wheel and physics’ is one of my my better stories, it is also one I cannot tell to friends and family – for getting the car in the ditch in the first place, to the owner of the car, or to my family who’d worry what I’d do next.

The news of the Eastman Kodak ‘filing for bankrupcy’ to use the American phrase, is being played out as the death of film photography – at least for the everyday user. I’ve not put a link in here on that at present, as most of them listed on Google seem ephemeral. It is certain that most people now have digital cameras. Even I haven’t taken a film photo for at least three years, and I’ve taken far more photos since I had a camera in a mobile phone than I did before. (Sadly, that camera seems to be beginning to fail).

Before all of this, I had decided to digitise my entire photo collection. I purchased a device that takes the negatives, converts them and stores the image on a memory stick with 9MB resolution – the highest I could find (as of the time of writing). I grabbed a set of old negatives, which were of the London North Eastern Railway (LNER) engine Mallard when it ran through my home town in the mid 1980s. Of course I have family ties with the LNER, so it was a special occasion for me. It stopped at the station, I had obtained a platform ticket (remember those?), and took some photos.

Anyway, I lined up the first strip of negatives, pushed it into this image device and had a shock. The small screen showed a familiar shot – that of the plate on the side of the engine about it’s record breaking run, as shown here:

However, in viewfinder, something I’d never seen on the print; reflected in the engine’s paintwork was the face of my late father. I’m unable at present to enhance the picture sufficiently, the best I can on this computer is the following image, which at least looks like a head and open-necked shirt.

Of course, looking back at the first image shown here, there is a shadow that, knowing what I know now, I recognise, but until that moment, I had not a clue. Believe me, in the viewfinder, the reflected image is unambiguous!

So far as I know, the boiler certificate for Mallard has expired, and she currently resides in the National Railway museum at York as a static exhibit. For those who want to see the detail, I’ve separated out that plate:

This engine, with an official speed measuring truck in tow, managed to reach 126mph for just long enough to count as the world record holder. A record that still stands to this day.

This is item one of this topic. One should not be surprised that I take some time to compose some blog entries, for they require a fair bit of research, for all their lack of references. One of the entries that I will make on this topic is already in a fair state of preparation, but I have to scan in images, work on them (sic) to highlight the issues I want to discuss. Another topic will be the lifetime of digital imagery, as opposed to those of negatives.

Pocket knives

December 6, 2011

While I have never been a Boy Scout, I do try and uphold their motto “Be Prepared”. Or perhaps in some other wordings of such an attitude to life, such as “Expect the Unexpected” (from Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy), a wording that has on occasion saved great embarassement or worse.

This is the reason for my Out Bag, and that, so far as I can remember, I have continuously carried a pocket knife since schooldays. I cannot remember what age I was regularly carring one, I assume it was school age at some point (that would not be allowed today). I’ve only lost one – and I certainly believe lost not stolen – at University. I rememeber having it, which room but a day or so later I realised it had gone, and despite quite a search (I was also leaving, so was packing up), never found it. That still irritates.

The other lost knife, another one that irritates, is the two blade Swiss Army knife I purchased for my father. I know when I last saw it, after his death, and it is one of the things that ‘disappeared’ from Mother’s house while she was
there and had carers come in to keep an eye on her.

More recently, issues such as trouser pockets not being so strong as before, the need to carry many more keys with me, needing something to cut finger nails (with growing age, my nails tend to break more easily, and hence need to be trimmed ‘on the go’). So I picked upon the standard ‘vanity’ Swiss Army (Victorinox) type. I use the word ‘vanity’ in that it is for cutting fingernails etc, as the primary function, although it was the Classic SD Mini knife. This knife lasted well, but apart from some design features, below, my tendancy of dropping my keys meant the red plastic sides – ‘scales’ – were breaking.

For a short time after that, I carried a larger Swiss Army knife, but basically it proved to be too big – much though I liked, and used, the extra blades, the corkscrew proved to be the most useful additional part.

Not so common: Victorinox (L) and Wegner 'vanity' knives

So we come to the recent knives. Having had the side plastic – ‘scales’ break, I looked for an alternative, and found a special Victorinox version of their Classic Mini with knurled alox handles. Notibly more expensive even though it had fewer features, it was the metal sides I was interested in. There was also the Wegner equivalent of the Victorinox Classic, which had the larger plastic scales, although in this case profiled for better gripping. I should note both of these knives took some time to find, they certainly were not available in high-street shops whenever I looked.

The knurled alox handle is much slimmer than the standard plastic 'scales'

For various reasons, having the knife on my keyring became a requirement, and here the two knives show their relative merits and problems.

The (in this case orange) knurled alox handles make for a much smaller physical knife, for the same size blade. But the design means that operating the knife means having the rest of the keyring attached half way down the knife – the Wegner knife has it at the other end. Due to its slim design, this particular Victorinox knife does not have the toothpick or tweezers (the Wegner does – and internally mounted, not externally as per the standard Victorinox ‘vanity’ knife with the red plastic scales).

It is interesting to look at what knives were actually issued to the Swiss Army. From the 1960s until recently, they had knurled alox handles. The most recent model has “polymer texturized non-slip inlays incorporated in the nylon grip shells” (from Wiki), but it is designed to be keyring mounted – and the keyring is at the opposite end to the opened knife!

A modern 'Soldatenmesser' Army knife - note the keyring location. (Wiki photo)

So I guess my ideal knife for this purpose would be of the general Victorinox knurled alox design. but with the Wegner keyring location, and even possibly the internally mounted tweezers like the Wegner. But (and here is the dumbing down), why did Victorinox design a knife with the keyring in such a stupid position in the first place?

While I do use the knife for the ‘vanity’ purposes that I alude to, I’ve used it to re-wire a mains plug (actually, that is an illegal act now…), cut paper, wood… But I’m not so popular now as when I had a corkscrew on the knife.

Preparing for Winter

November 26, 2011

Not for the first time in recent years, has there been a mild October and November – although I believe this year was record breaking.  A few years ago, when we were having a new roof put on the block of flats, the roofer disappeared for weeks, during that fine, mild autumn, and when he then complained about trying to finish the work in a cold wet December – he finished on 24th(!) – I pointed out the weeks of one of the best Autumns for years when he was away [doing other jobs, no doubt] – he pretended not to hear me.

Preparations this year are different and it is probably worth giving some detail as it gives an idea of the current situation chezes (sic) moi.  For I have three places to look after, still.

The Greenhouse is tricky, for the second heater appears to have developed an erratic thermostat.  Not that I thought much of the thermostat, or indeed the heater as a whole, to start with.  Using the remote sensor system, as previously blogged about, I’ve gone out late at night on more than one occasion to try and adjust the heater down, for it was holding the temperature too high.  It’s not that it really needs the heat yet (even this late in the year), but I want it working correctly for when the frost/snow does finally arrive, especially if I’m not around to fine-tune (or even, coarsely adjust) the heater.  Or get yet another heater.

As for the last two years, the old heater, just acting as a blower, is on all the time, to keep the air circulating.

If necessary, I do have a lot of bubble-wrap that I could use to make a smaller ‘greenhouse’ within the main one, and put all the valuable plants into that.

As well as moving the summer pelargoniums in last week, the Cymbidium again is in bud.  I fear that neighbours 60′ trees now overshadow the garden so much as to limit summer growth.  Unfortunately the Pleonies were killed off by the cold last winter.

This year's Cymbidium flower bud - only one so far.

One new problem is that I find I cannot reverse the Mercedes into the ‘back yard’ at Mother’s – it just will not go, and how I’ve tried.  I could get it into the garage, poking its nose out, but I’d have to clear the garage (again, it gets cleared and filled with monotonous regularity), take the doors off, and while the car’s there, not have access to anything in the car or the garage.  The reason for this is that the car needs some work to stop the rust now, before it gets serious, but it is the sort of job that could take more than a week (especially at this time of the year), as paint dried, and I cannot block neighbour’s access to his hardstanding for that long.

For the second year, I face winter with no gas central heating – a long running legal battle.  The tenants in the flat below used to be profilgate in keeping their heating on (which helped keep me warm), but I guess they’ve either moved out without telling their landlord, or else the fuel price has finally forced some economy in their living standards.  I’m really not sure which of the two it is!

Apple harvest 2011

October 22, 2011

The Food Programme (BBC Radio 4) pointed out that this year is a bumper year for tree fruit.  As if I did not know, from the orchard at what was parent’s house, and which I am inheritor-presumptive (awaiting probate)

I had no chance to pick the fruit until today, when I only had half an hour, and despite the recent windy weather, most of the fruit is on the trees.  There are quite a number of windfalls.  On occasion I’ve gone out, picked up a windfall,  and baked the apple.  I made the interesting discovery that Adam’s Pearmain turns into an apple froth when baked, just as Bramley apples (‘cookers’ to those who don’t know any more) famously do.   Another (unknown) variety does not.

The photo above shows how heavily laden the Mutsu tree is.  In the half hour, I picked two tubs of 25 liquid litres (~6 gallons) just from a few branches so laden they were pickable by just standing under the tree.  I know I’ve only taken a small percentage of that tree, and there are others I’ve not yet started on.  It is ironic that father was so critical of ‘Golden Delicious’, yet it is one of the parents of Mutsu, which obviously has Japanese parentage as well, from its name.

The orchard has four apple and one pear tree surviving.  Even the pear tree cropped this year, neighbours picked 60% of the crop early – it overhangs their land, (they gave me a slice of the pudding they made from it), but the rest rotted before it was ripe.  The Pear tree was seriously ill, I thought it would die, but in the past couple of years it has slowly started to recover. Two years ago I managed to rescue one pear before it rotted – it was, as I remembered, delicious.  Variety Pitmaston Duchess.  Two other pear trees, Conference and one so long ago I now forget have died, whereas all the apples have survived.  It has just occurred to me as to whether the pear tree is self fertile (which is questionable), or if not, where the nearest pear tree is.

The apples clearly fertalise each other, for all the complexities of apple fertility (di and tri varieties).

There are two apple trees that had been in alternate bi-annual cropping, but both are heavily laden this year – Adam’s Pearmain and Mutsu (aka Crispin).  The other two are a mix.  One has Discovery plus something else unknown, the other is a different unknown.  ‘Unknown’ means that the trees are not as advertised when purchased – one was supposed to be Lord Lambourne, I forget what the other was supposed to be.  It may be that the trees are just the rootstocks, the budding having failed.  So maybe the fruit is ‘M19’ or other rootstock variety.  The Discovery was something my father and myself added (he was showing me how to do it), budding this variety onto the existing tree.

The Adam’s Pearmain is sometimes referred to as a Cider variety, although I’ve never seen it used for that.  The tree is a bud on a dwarfing rootstock from a tree at my paternal grandparents, and the story ran as follows.

They planted a tree, probably a Cox’s Orange, but it died.  The next year, there were shoots, from the rootstock.  It soon started fruiting.  My grandfather sent off some of the fruit to the RHS, who identified it as Adam’s Pearmain.  I vaguely remember the tree as being an enormous glory – shaped just as a child would draw a tree – at the bottom of grandparent’s
garden.   The house still exists, but there appears to be a factory built over where the tree used to stand (the garden is much shorter – albeit as viewed from the road).

Some of the Adam’s Pearmain this year are enormous – I cannot remember seeing these apples this large before.  The Mutsu I do remember was an enormous fruit in any case, although this year are smaller in general, I guess due to the sheer number.

One reason to pick the fruit is because the trees over hang the greenhouse these days, and I don’t need yet more broken glass to have to replace (it’s a tricky job).  But everything is in shadow at this time of year to the sycamores literally inches beyond the end of the garden, and even put the ground floor of the house (30 yards or more away) in shade during the day when the sun passes behind them.

The Out Bag

September 18, 2011

There was a cartoon strip in one of the comics in the 1970s that somehow I always had a sneaking fondness for. It was so long ago I cannot remember the character’s name, or indeed which comic, and a search using Google hasn’t brought any enlightenment on this precise topic. Although two Sparky characters did bear some resemblance, maybe I’ve produced a hybrid character.

The character, as I remember it, had endlessly deep pockets, out of which he would pull whatever people were needing for the antic they were about. It was the ideal of ‘just happen to have one with me’ – in the similar way of the ‘here’s one I prepared earlier’.

Anyhow, the relivence of all of this is that I’ve always liked to follow the boy scout’s motto ‘Be Prepared’ – although I was never a scout. So I’ve always had a pocket knife with me, from my schooldays onwards (oh, those were the days). These days, for various reasons, it’s a tiny thing on my key chain, and while a Swiss Army one, it’s got a metal outer (the plastic of the previous one broke as I’m always dropping my keys), although the ergonomics department of Victorinox could do with checking the design – try putting the key ring at the other end, guys! (Wegner’s version does have this, but they are much harder to get hold of).

I’ve also always carried various tools in whichever car I’ve owned. However, the idea of useful items in the car has become rather more formalised as to be all in one bag. In it are all manner of things, in what was at first a rather unconcious attempt to emulate the cartoon character.

It started with a recycle box, mainly carrying car stuff, be it oil, screenwash, high visibility vest, etc. I found a shallowish tray that fitted neatly on top, and in that I put a few things. As I now have a blood sugar problem, sugar snacks/biscuits and small cartons of fruit juice were there, as were ‘wet wipes’, needed after work on the car, an umbrella…and so it grew.

Then the old Saab died, and I got the MB. Being an estate, the box was highly visible. I could stow some car items in with the spare wheel, some items were to hand for the driver in the door pocket (High visibilty vest, waterproof…) but I used a sports bag to house all the rest.

Then, another rationalisation, partly based upon actual use of the first Out Bag, and I got hold of a small rucksack. This of course has proved problematic, in that the ideal size does not exist between small and sufficient, and small is causing some problems.

The Out bag, 'artfully' arranged to show some of the contents...

Indeed, of the items in the previous bag, I have actually used, on various
occasions, and therefore been glad I had with me: High visibility vest (now in car pocket); a change of clothes; a Spork (fork/knife/spoon combination); spare AA batteries; ‘wet wipes’; spare bags of various natures – plastic, other types of foldaway bags as well as a couple of supermarket carriers.

Items that have been added, in a perceved ‘will be useful’ category are a picnic blanket with plastic undersheet (Waitrose freebie); polyester blanket and emergency blanket (metallised mylar sheet); a book; a torch/radio; a mobile phone charger; plate and cup; tailor’s tape (rule).

This must not be confused with items that I carry in the car, such as torch, maps (I don’t believe in Sat Navs, and on the few occasions I’ve had one in the car it’s driven me mad as well as making me jump out of my seat with a sudden disembodied voice), fairly substancial tool kit; first aid kit; something to put on the ground and lay on when working under the car (so not for best, as the picnic blanket would be).

Trying to fit everything into 20l rucksack is, in fact very difficult, especially since a change of clothes is on the list, and the blanket, which is thin, is still bulky in relation to 20 litres. A small amount of cash is in – I once left my wallet behind and filled up with Petrol before I realised, oh, to the rescue was the Out Bag.

In the photo above, items that are visible, albeit just in some cases, are blanket; change of clothes; towel (you’re not a cool frood if you don’t know where your towel is); packaway bag (the cyan with bee motif thing); plate, spork, book, paper tissues; fruit bars, alcohol based handwash. Not visible include cup, radio/torch, tennis ball, the bag containing some cash, emergency mylar blanket, and there are still some things I’d like to somehow fit in. Wet wipes are currently out, as I’ve yet to find a Small number in a bag, as opposed to bulk packs. Also planning on razor/soap/flannel, as I was lacking those when I used the change of clothes.

The picnic blanket will have to go outside, although as it has it’s own carrier, it is easy to hook on.

Why ‘Out bag’? Well, its there when you’re out and about; or if you’re caught out; out of luck (money stolen, for example); there was another one but I cannot remember it now…