On Wednesday, we were out walking the dogs in failing light. Because we spend most, if not all the walk, on public roads and lanes, I popped an orange hi-vis jacket on top of my Oxford Blue, and we were both wearing headlights, just in case. A local man (whom, for the purposes of this narrative, we shall call Michel Poisson – bear with me, the reason will become apparent soon) was driving by in his 4×4, stopped and said he hoped we were having a good time. He also promised better weather on the morrow. It was only after he had gone that we realised. Wax jackets, wellies, two terriers, headlamps and an orange hi-viz jacket – he must have thought we were out hunting!
What a hoot. I suppose, had he asked why we had no guns, I could have said that there was a hawk soaring high above (or maybe, as it was getting dark, an eagle owl would be more appropriate). It was, I could have told him, watching our every move and, on a signal from me, it would come stooping down onto whatever the terriers had flushed. In Trevor’s case, that would probably be a goldfinch although, if there are partridge or pheasant around, he is not averse to chasing them – he even chased a buzzard once!
As an aside, the man turned out to be thoroughly unreliable – Thursday was colder than Wednesday and blessed all day with what we have started to call snizzle – snowfall, but more like drizzle than a proper fall. Maybe he was demonstrating the veracity of what David Mitchell said in his Observer column on 5th December – Forecasters would do well to adopt Peter Snow’s phrase about election night swingometer extrapolations: “Remember, this is just a bit of fun.”.
Clare has been very industrious this week. We have been treated to dried apple, kiwi fruit, mango, bananas and tomatoes. I have to admit that he dried apple knocks into the shade the apple crisps available in the shops. We also have more chocolate tipped candied orange peel on the make AND she has done a shed-load of ironing. So much, in fact, that Trevor (remember him?) felt moved to take steps to stop her so she could get some rest. Sitting cross-legged on the item that was being ironed, he refused to move from his position on the ironing
bored board for anything less than a biscuit!
I discovered a couple of natty little apps for the iPhone this week. Sleep Cycle is based on the assumption that you move in light sleep and are still when sleeping deeply. It’s an alarm that watches your sleep pattern and wakes you when you’re dozing lightly, instead of when you are sleeping deeply. It calculates the pattern, and sounds its alarm (choice of several or use your own choice from your iTunes library) at an appropriate time from a half hour before the selected time up to that time. Does it work? I’m not sure, as I always tend to wake before the alarm anyway. However, for 0.79€ it’s a nice alarm clock, and it is interesting to see your own sleep pattern graph. Review is here.
My other discovery this week is an iPhone app called Viber (from www.viber.com). Viber is billed as a bit of a Skype killer. Currently only available for iPhone but with releases for Android and Blackberry in the works, it is a nifty VoIP application that offers free calls between Viber-enabled phones globally (as does Skype). Where it differs from Skype is that there is no need to sign up, no user names to remember and so on. You merely install the application, connect and receive an SMS containing a one-time PIN. This is used only to confirm the number you have given. Viber uses your existing contacts list, noting against each contact where they are Viber-enabled. Calls to non Viber-enabled numbers are simply routed through your normal phone software. This is, so far, the only point at which it is weaker than Skype. The latter offers its SkypeOut service, making particularly overseas calls much cheaper than would be the case with your normal tariff. That being so, I don’t think it will entirely replace Skype, lacking a number of Skype’s extras that we take for granted, but its purple phone icon has already replaced the iPhone’s standard green icon on my iPhone.
We are up for an early start tomorrow. I am booked in for surgery on my ear (again) at 8:30am, which means we have to be there at 7:30am. That means leaving here not much after 6:30am. To give me time to shower twice with the special antibiotic scrub they always insist on being used, to prevent things like MRSA I suppose, I shall have to be up by about 5:30am. Let’s see if Sleep Cycle gets me up gently at that time of the morning! That’ll be me out of action for most of the day, followed by a couple of weeks of nurses’ visits to change dressings and so on. Let’s just hope that this third operation will be the last.