Stymied By The System or The Failed Migration

Another young woman at O2 had the doubtful pleasure, early this morning, of being the seventh person I have spoken to about the ongoing ‘farce’. Without going into too much boring detail, especially of the music I listened to whilst on hold, I can report that the culprit department has been identified, and the problem should be resolved in 24 hours. I said I was going on a two hour journey and would be camping in an O2 office if it was not resolved by the time I reached my destination.

Our destination was Mat, Tess, and Poppy’s home in Upper Dicker.

Magnolia

En route we noticed that a pink magnolia, that blends so well with the blue wash on the wall of the elegant Georgian terraced house to which it belongs, is burgeoning. We always enjoy it when we are stopped at traffic lights on leaving Lymington.

The phone problem was not resolved when we arrived at The Village Shop, so we spent a little time in the flat with Mat and Poppy then repaired to the cafe for massive reinforcing fry ups, for we were going camping and might be some time.

Paintings on wall

The walls are adorned with the paintings that Jessica and Imogen executed there on New Year’s Day.

Suitably fed, Jackie drove me to O2 at the Arndale Centre in Eastbourne. We were to spend the next two hours there.

Rooftops from car parkRooftops and car park

First we had to find our way to the centre car park. Road works by the station didn’t help matters, but eventually we parked on level 1 and made our way into the shopping mall. The views over the rooftops of this large seaside town were fascinating.

The stores location information was actually very helpful and we were soon at the mobile phone outlet where I was immediately assisted by a young woman who identified the problem, made phone calls, and set the correct procedure in process. She did, however, tell me that implementation could take up to 48 hours and there was nothing she could do about it. Like me, and the telephone advisors she was, as I said, stymied by the system.

I am sure everyone would agree that having a diagnosis for a mystery ailment is, in itself, quite healing. Today’s advisor pronounced that my phone was suffering from a Failed Migration, apparently a very rare event. This has meant that a different, random, number has been transferred to my phone and is currently listed to me, not to another person who has a similar name. Assuming she is right, and her treatment correct, it may be cured in a couple of days. In the meantime, if yours is one of the many contact numbers I have lost and you do wish to remain in touch, I would appreciate it if you would send me an e-mail with the details. Thank you.

There wasn’t much point in occupying the shop overnight, so we returned to Upper Dicker to spend some more time with the family before returning home. On my final check this evening, I found a text message asking me to complete a questionnaire about how satisfied I was with the service I received when I contacted O2 yesterday. I don’t think I need detail my responses. A final text assured me that my views were important to the company and would help them to improve their service. It is hard to see how.

After our earlier slap-up meal, I needed nothing more this evening.

Tales From The Riverbank

Needless to say, the promised phone call did not come from O2, and, by 6 p.m. yesterday afternoon, when we entered PREZZO restaurant in Leatherhead and I turned off the power, my long-standing number had not been transferred to the new phone which I could not use. As suspected, Helen had been trying to contact us on my mobile, but was sent to voicemail, which of course, I did not know.

PREZZO provided excellent food, but eleven of us were pressed around small tables placed together, which could really only have provided comfort for eight. My meal was a very spicy calzone which, with a glass of house red wine, despite the squash, I did enjoy. Service was friendly, but it was such a peak time, and the waiting staff had so little space in which to manoeuvre that they were fighting against the odds, and delivery of the food was rather slow.

The Grand DukeThe Godalming Operatic Society, conducted by Pat O’Connell, is a very accomplished amateur company, and in their production of The Grand Duke, they excelled themselves. The Gilbert & Sullivan operetta is so rarely performed that the cast were able to use a professional set of costumes that had only been used once before. This splendid apparel was complemented by superb sets. The choreography was outstanding and the ensemble performances stunning. There are a number of very good voices, and some wonderful actors in the society. They were all on excellent form. The many comic turns were delightful, and, although we were aware that the Director had tightened up the piece, I wondered why the work was not more popular. I have to confess that sometimes, at the theatre, I find myself checking my watch to see how much longer we have. I did not do this once last night.

During a convivial drink at the bar afterwards, I turned the power back on the phone. It was working. Shelly rang my number just to check all was well. It did not ring on my new phone, but went to voicemail, obviously still on my broken phone, left at home. I then rang Jackie’s mobile. What showed on her screen was the number that O2 had transferred erroneously and were meant to have corrected. I did my best to remain calm.

Bridge Street

Shortly before dawn, leaving the others sleeping in the comfortable and well appointed Travel Lodge where we spent the night, I took a walk down Bridge Street to

Leatherhead Bridge sign

Leatherhead Bridge 1

Leatherhead’s refurbished medieval bridge over the River Mole. With limited daylight, the street lamps burned on the water beneath.

Leatherhead Bridge 2

It wasn’t long before the lights were extinguished, although the sun was in no hurry to replace their effect on the stream.

River Mole

I wandered along Minchin Close to a small riverside park at the end of it. There I found evidence of an unknown group’s disenchantment with a scene straight out The Wind in the Willows.

Drinks on wall

Empty Stella bottles and plastic beakers, the contents of which I was not about to investigate, left on the walls

Drinks and detritus 1

Detritus

distracted the observer from even more sordid detritus beneath them. A Doritos packet, bottle tops, ashes of burnt paper, and a garment I chose not to examine, were strewn about the ground.

Rubber band and bloodstainsBloodstained toilet paper

What looked like a broken rubber band, and bloodstained concrete and toilet paper suggested one particular tale.

Thinking that it was perhaps appropriate that the light this morning was so dismal, I walked back up Bridge Street to Costa’s for a pre-breakfast coffee to prepare me for my next bout with O2. Unfortunately, Costa’s have a rack containing newspapers. Across the front page of The Sunday Times was emblazoned the result of yesterday’s rugby match between England and Ireland, which I had hitherto studiously avoided learning because I had, I thought, recorded it.

Breakfast was taken by us, and by Pat, Christine, Helen, Bill, Shelly, and Ron, in Annie’s Cafe.

When calling O2, I was fortunate enough to be answered by Bella, the first person I felt I could trust to honour her promise to call me back, after she had listened to the story and learned that the Small and Medium Business department did not open until 9.30 a.m. It was now soon after 8. She said she would phone after she had spoken to them. Albeit not until mid-day she did try, but we were on the way home in a poor reception area. The voicemail message, still on the wrong number, said she would try again later. She did, but I didn’t hear it. It is not possible to call these numbers back.

The reason I did not hear the second call was because I was watching the England/Ireland game on catch up. When we first arrived home I had settled down to watch the recording of Friday’s match between Wales and France. 25 minutes into it the TV screen froze and BT’s You View box became so unresponsive that I couldn’t even turn it off. After unsuccessfully attempting to resume normal service, I slunk away to do something else, namely start on this post. Anything would have done. A couple of hours later I tried again. I am not prepared to go into yet more boring technical detail, except perhaps that I began by unplugging the whole thing, but suffice it to say I learned that the provider was updating the software, and eventually all was well. Maybe that was why yesterday’s recording had failed and I had to watch it on BBC iPlayer.

This evening Jackie and I dined at Lal Quilla, where we received our usual warm welcome, and excellent meals. My choice was king prawn naga. We shared special fried rice, egg paratha, and sag paneer; and both drank Kingfisher.

After The Rant

I have mentioned before that there had only been two books in my life that I have not finished reading. The first was James Joyce’s ‘Finnegan’s Wake’, because I couldn’t fathom it; the second was ‘Mort d’Arthur’ by Sir Thomas Mallory because it bored me. I have now managed a third for a combination of the two reasons.

‘Meditations’ by Rene Descartes was so difficult and boring that I did not continue with ‘& Other Writings’ in my Folio Society edition. What I did seem to understand was that this philosophical thinker trusted no perception other than his thought, except that he accepted God as a given. He didn’t trust his senses until he had done them to death inside his head. It did my head in. In fairness, better brains than mine have kept the work in print for almost 400 years. I finally abandoned it last night and began Jonathan Dimbleby’s ‘The Battle of The Atlantic’, which at least promises to flow.

I spent most of the morning trying to unravel my phone problems without becoming too twisted up myself. Do you know, I think Descartes is more comprehensible than our conglomerate corporations.

After going through all the usual hoops, my first call to O2 resulted in my being informed that my long term phone number had been transferred to my new SIM and superseded the temporary one I was given yesterday. The conversation ended abruptly. I cannot say why.

I couldn’t use the new phone which now bore the legend ‘Not registered in network’. I couldn’t even call O2 on it. I wondered if a fuse had blown. It had. Mine.

Using the landline I went through the hoops again and, of course, spoke to a second advisor. He told me that the transfer from business to personal account would take 48 hours. In the meantime I could use the old number on the new phone. I couldn’t. One of the comments this man had made was that if I could try my old SIM card in any phone that it would fit, it should work. I took that card out of the broken phone in order to try it in Jackie’s mobile. I dropped it on the floor. In attempting to pick it up, my lady shot it under the sofa. It’s amazing how much fluff you find when you have to shift a sofa bed.

It didn’t fit Jackie’s phone. I tried a third call to O2. This, once again new, advisor, when quoting my numbers, mentioned one I didn’t recognise. You’ve guessed it. My number had been transferred to the wrong account. This was quite different to either my old or my temporary numbers. Having reversed all this, he told me this would now take four hours to activate.

I will acknowledge that it was difficult to do so through gritted teeth, but I observed that I had been an O2 customer for 30 years and expected better expedition than that. He promised to call me back as soon as he could.

This rant over, I gathered a few more prospective prints for The First Gallery Exhibition. Here is a sample:

table top 23.9.15

This table top illustrates The Head Gardener’s propensity for purchasing suitable item’s from Efford Recycling Centre.

raindrops on sweet pea 23.9.15

The end of September 2015 was quite wet, as shown by these raindrops on sweet peas.

Frozen pond 1

On 19th January this year, a brief freeze gave an abstract quality to the Waterboy’s pool.

Sunrise

Sunrises, like this on 6th April 2015, are often wonderfully dramatic.

Gardener's Rest

By 27th September 2014, The Head Gardener’s Rest had been installed;

Poppies by Jackie 3

on 29th June, when taking this photograph, she had set these poppy seed heads against the red Japanese maple.

bee on cosmos 29.9.15

Here a furry little bee plunders a cosmos.

Despite the O2 representative’s promise, and the fact that he knew we were leaving for the weekend after his call, he didn”t make it. I therefore made a fourth call and spoke to yet another advisor. Hee had to confer with someone on the other side of the business, and put me on hold for a while. I was put through to a young lady who explained that they were working on it at the moment, and it should be resolved shortly. I would receive a call when it was done. I could safely take the new mobile with me. I said this was the second such promise I had received today and asked whether I could trust it. She assured me that I could and that it had been a pleasure talking to me.

Later this afternoon, Jackie will drive us to Leatherhead for the annual family evening watching her cousin Pat O’Connell’s direction of Gilbert and Sullivan. This evening’s choice is ‘The Grand Duke’.

All I can tell you about dinner is that it will be taken at an Italian restaurant before the performance.

 

 

Pictures For An Exhibition

Today we toted five more canvas bags of tree cuttings to Efford Recycling Centre.

Jackie tipping cuttings

The Head Gardener was prevailed upon to bear the strain of this one as we tipped the contents into the vast container, thus allowing The Photographer to carry out his primary role.

This time we returned with a stout wooden table suitable for the garden. I understand it was there yesterday, but it was asking too much for Jackie to pass it up two days running.

Samsung phoneAfter our last trip this afternoon, I attempted to make a phone call. My mobile seemed to be dead. Eventually I managed to get something onto the screen, but it was scribble. An urgent trip to Lymington’s Carphone Warehouse was in order. Two very helpful young men were staffing the shop. The immediate diagnosis was that the screen was cracked. This meant the phone could not relay information from the works. We decided upon a new instrument which would require a new contract. All went swimmingly until I was asked for my bank account number. I didn’t have it. Jackie, who had taken refuge in Costa’s for coffee and cake, had to down both in a hurry and get me home and back in the 25 minutes available before the shop closed. She made the twelve mile round trip in 20 minutes. I took out my new contract and received  replacement phone.

All my contacts are lost, and I must ring O2 tomorrow to have my number transferred to the new SIM card. As its seems likely that I cracked the phone in my pocket whilst humping the bags of cuttings, Jackie brightly asked me exactly how much her dump table had cost. I’m a little calmer now than I was then.

I received a rather good surprise from The First Gallery this morning. The April exhibition, for which I had submitted the albums on the making of the garden, thinking that they would be supplementary to the main performance, is now to be focussed on our garden with painters and sculptors providing additional material. Between trips to the dump and the later thrills, I trawled my collection to gather together more photographs for prints of varying sizes. Here are a few:

View from kitchen garden

View from the kitchen garden as it was on 26th July 2014;

virginia creeper, calibrachoa, and fuchsia 2 30.9.15

Virginia creeper, calibrachoa and fuchsia 30th September 2015;

Allium

allium;

Mum (Jackie and Elizabeth hidden) - Version 2

Mum negotiating Phantom Path 6th July 2014;

Butterfly Small White on verbena bonarensis 29.9.15

Small White butterfly on verbena bonarensis 29th September 2015;

Chair and bed head

and chair and bedhead on Weeping Birch Bed 12th March 2015.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s superb sausage casserole, mashed potato, and crisp cauliflower, carrots, and broccoli. Se drank sparkling water and I drank Via di Cavallo chianti 2014.

Spring In Sight

Today began our first serious joint preparation for 2016 garden work.

Heliga

This view of the Heligan Path shows early spring flowers sharing billets with hellebores.

Daffodils

Wherever we look there are snowdrops in profusion; many different daffodils;

Crocuses

a variety of crocuses;

Hyacinth

and even a proud pink hyacinth.

Jackie on Heligan Path bench

Taking the occasional rest on the Heligan Path bench,

Palm Bed

The Head Gardener continued last autumn’s work on the Palm Bed,

Jackie pruning grass 1Jackie pruning grass 2

in particular, pruning the ornamental grass. Two of the camellias, hung with floral decorations, can be seen in the background of the first of these two pictures.

Grass

My contribution was to cut this grass,

pick up some of winter’s fallen branches, and help Jackie load some of the griselinia hedge cuttings into the car. The heap of these stretches the length of the back drive. We have decided the best disposal method is to bag them up in the large canvas gravel containers and cart them to Efford Recycling Centre. My lady had filled two bags. We took them away, one per trip. Naturally we returned with a large terra cotta plant pot.

Mr Pink’s fish and chips, for our meal this evening, was supplemented by Mrs Garner’s pickled onions; Mr Lidl’s Freshona pickled cornichons; and, in Jackie’s case, Hoegaarden, and in mine, more of the madiran.

The Disembarkation

The beauty of our National Book Token service is that these gifts can be exchanged in most bookshops, and are valid indefinitely. This was just as well when I discovered one I had received from Maggie and Mike about 20 years ago. I could add it to the W.H.Smith token Ron and Shelly gave me for Christmas. With that in mind, Jackie drove me to Smiths in Lymington where I bought Jonathan Dimbleby’s history, ‘The Battle of the Atlantic’.

Smith’s is really a stationer’s that also sells books, music, and other similar items. It is situated further up the steeply rising High Street than Quay Street and its environs which I have featured on several occasions.

High Street 1High Street 2

The rooftops of the downward sloping Quay Hill can be seen in the middle distance of these photographs.

The Angel & Blue Pig

Beyond the blue covered scaffolding visible on the left, lies The Angel & Blue Pig, Pub and Rooms, that, like many other buildings, retains its original facade, including the awning covered balcony.

Ashley LaneNew Look and ElliottsNew Look

On the opposite side of the road, the old and the new are sharply juxtaposed at the corner of Ashley Lane, where New Look stands by Elliotts. On the lane side of the New Look building, the signage of a long departed outfitters clings to its red brick ground.

Solent Mews

A little further down the hill, the gated Solent Mews, with its ancient cobbles, looks intriguing enough to invite investigation on some future visit.

Lymington River 1

Before returning home, we drove alongside Lymington River towards the Isle of Wight ferry. Gainly would not have been n adjective applied to my clambering over a wooden stile to take this shot.

Ferry arriving

I was, however, rewarded by the Isle of Wight ferry coming into view.

Ferry docking 1

Ferry docking 2

Using a certain amount of poetic licence, I nipped back over the stile and walked through the car park to what I hoped was the docking area. Again I was rewarded by the sight of the ship coming to a standstill

Cyclists disembarking

and, having lowered the drawbridge, beginning with cyclists, unloading its cargo.

Cars disembarking

Cars, freed by a couple of men in yellow jackets, rapidly followed.

We drove around the back roads a little more, before returning home. This evening, noticing Jackie opening a bottle of Reserve des Tuguets madiran 2012, I mentioned that I thought I still had a glass of the malbec left. ‘You had’, The Cook replied, ‘it’s in the casserole.’ So now you know what I had to drink. The casserole was Jackie’s classic sausages, served with creamy mashed potato and crisp carrots, cauliflower, and broccoli. She, of course, drank Hoegaarden.

Preparing For Visitors

Dawn Traffic

Travelling into the first streaks of dawn this morning, the usual commuter traffic sped along Christchurch Road in the direction of Lymington;

Clematis freckles

whilst in our garden the aged gazebo has flecked the clematis Cirrhosa purpurascens with rusty freckles

The proprietor of Fagan’s menswear shop in New Milton has occasionally fitted me from her parents’ outlet, Hunt’s, for big and tall men, in Boscombe. As regular readers will know, the last jacket she produced wasn’t quite big enough. Jackie therefore drove me to Boscombe, where, clearly one of Hunt’s smaller customers, I was able to buy two jackets and order a suit.

This town, now a suburb of Bournemouth, still boasts a fine, sandy beach. As it was a fine, springlike, morning we diverted to the beach.

Two men on a bench

Benches on the clifftop were occupied by basking companions.

A long zigzagged path led down to the beach. Leaving Jackie on a bench conveniently situated halfway down, I continued to investigate. I walked along to the pier, back up a similar path to the top, and through Bournemouth Rotary Club’s sponsored garden to our parking spot.

Diggers on beach

On the way down I was intrigued by a collection of inactive heavy plant on the sandy beach. This, I learned, was an effort to reclaim the sand for the summer’s visitors.

Walkers between diggers and beach huts

I noticed that there was a useful gap in the row of beach huts where a woman slowly pushing a buggy would eventually appear. After waiting for what seemed an age, I got the shot, but the inevitable happened. Masquerading as the proverbial bus, a gentleman emerged from the opposite direction.

Diggers on beach and pier

I then met a couple ascending the slope. They told me what was happening, and why there was no current activity. Progress on the project is governed by the tides, so the men worked from 10 p.m. last night until 7 o’clock this morning, and would resume at 2 p.m. During this stage they will refurbish the groynes (no, Mr. WordPress, not groins). When that is complete, dredging of sand from beneath the waves will commence. It is expected that enough sand to reach the level of the promenade will be shifted by the month of May. The structure in the distance is the pier.

Digger 1

I was quite lucky to make this photograph. I turned off the camera in order to retract the lens, poked it through the wire mesh you see on the right, turned it on again, and pointed it hopefully at my intended subject. I only needed to straighten the final image a little bit.

It wasn’t long before I discovered that this ingenuity had been unnecessary (It was my Dad’s favourite joke to get me to spell it – as in ‘unnecessary, spell it’ –  we always found it necessary to humour him).

Digger 2Digger 3

Eventually, you see, the barrier came to an end, and it was possible to walk round to the machines;

Rust on digger

to delight in the rust colour and textures of the smooth-worn grabbers,

StakesStake point

and the weathering of the pointed timber piles.

Opening beach hut 1Opening beach hut 2

The occasional beach hut, along the stretch leading to the pier, was being opened up.

Goats

The steep, scrub-laden, bank between these huts and the zigzag path was being cleared by a pair of goats.

Cleaning railings

I was most impressed by the final spring-cleaning effort. This cheerful pair were scrubbing the railings on the path up by Honeycombe Beach.

Collecting water

Water was collected in buckets from a tap further up the slope.

Local Chinese takeaway set meals for two always last us two days. This evening was our second helping of yesterday’s, with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I made further inroads into the malbec.