Until about eighteen months ago I was well in touch with the latest technology - not just the real commercial stuff, but the latest gizmos and gadgets. Working in a vibrant IT department among mainly 30-something "boys" I was kept up to date (and not just with technology). But since retirement, though I've kept my hand in with all the farm stuff that depends on the computer, and amused myself with the website and blog, and of course the weather station and wildlife camera, I know there is a lot of stuff that has passed me by. But last month I took a great leap and bought a smartphone and I'm gradually realising it does have it's uses beyond phone calls and texts. When we were on holiday last month we used it to find a caravan dealer, and it showed us the best route. It also somehow twisted my arm to buy a caravan . . . .
Last night we watched "Today at Wimbledon" and as the credits rolled a song was played - nothing to do with tennis, but it made me sit up and say "what was that?". By then the programme had finished and we couldn't remember any of the words. Never mind. With a few clocks of the mouse I loaded up BBC i-player and whizzed to the end of the programme. I pointed my phone at the speaker and opened the App "Soundhound". Back came the answer with all the information I could have wanted. (It was I Won't Give Up by Jason Mraz).
Have you seen the square barcodes in magazine adverts? QR (Quick Response code) lets you scan the barcode and go straight to a barcode. To see this in action look at this BBC news item and read about Lady Shamrock. I'm not sure it would work on a Shorthorn though.
The "new" weather station has been live for over a year now (setup 8th June 2011) but I forgot all about it then (maybe because we were on holiday!). However, if you go to our main weather website (from the link on the tab at the top of the Blog - or click here - so can scroll down to "Trends" and see how the weather compares to this date last year.
It's been a bit quiet on out Blog lately as we've been away! Henry and I went off in our caravan for 6 nights. I can't remember the last time we were away so long. We chose last week as we were up to date with silage, not many cows to milk (a lot dried off and ready to calve), it was half term so my childminding duties were on hold. We decided to go to our usual site near Carlisle (less than an hour to get there). We can usually get in last minute as it doesn't have a toilet block or children's playground. But this time it was very busy (we were lucky and got a good pitch - with uninterrupted sunshine when it was fine). I can't say we had good weather. But it didn't rain all the time. We did manage to sit outside to read (or fall asleep), and even cooked on the barbecue one night. But it was very cool.
Our caravan is beginning to show it's age, and things mysteriously go wrong over winter. This year we did remember to remove the water filter and drain the system before it froze (see Blog from last June), but as usual we had trouble with the lights when we connected up to the car. Henry spent about two hours under the van fiddling with wires and though we got them working, the connection seemed so tenuous, we took the trailer board "just in case". And when Henry washed off all the winter's grime, signs of "tin worm" were beginning to show. But it's big enough for the two of us. (It should be, it's very long and meant for five), and is reasonably comfy. The weather being what it was we planned to watch television in the evening, but the signal was not exactly reliable. Sometimes we could only get BBC channels, and sometimes only ITV and Channel 4 (plus some shopping channels of course). So we decided to splash out and buy a new aerial. With the wonders of the Web on my new smart phone we found a caravan dealer a few miles away. We weighed up the pros and cons (and cost) of several aerials and took one down to the till. Then something went wrong. Henry said "we'll just have a look at the caravans". We should have walked away at that point. But I was led astray and went inside a newer version of our caravan. I sat down, looked around and was completely seduced. It was as if someone knew what we wanted and put the van in our path. We didn't jump straight in. Henry looked at some other vans, and then in detail at this temptress. But it was a forgone conclusion and we're picking it up next week.
You would think our old caravan would be glad of the chance to retire gracefully (after careful advertising). But no; if it could go wrong it did - fridge and hot water being the worst. So now we have to continue to fiddle about with wires and plumbing to fix the old van, while looking forward to it's shiny new replacement.
Note - when I say new, I mean "new to us" (we're not that flush).
We got back yesterday and have been hard at work ever since. Me with mountains of paperwork (a full alphabet of abbreviations - VAT, HLS, SA, RPA, BCMS, NE etc), and Henry and James have started on the next round of silaging. Some fields weren't ready when we did the first lot, and we thought we would big bale them. But there's too much, so it's mowed and scaled out, ready for rowing up tomorrow before the contractor comes to pick up, and will go in the pit.
Tomorrow sees the start of the Diamond Jubilee celebrations. New Hutton has organised an extravaganza, including the annual sports day, discos for young and old, tea party, hog roast and I dread to say New Hutton's Got Talent and Karaoke. Everywhere is decorated with red and white flags and bunting, and I'm sure many photos and videos will be taken in glorious colour. One thing that seems to be missing is a Fancy Dress Competition. To celebrate the Coronation I entered at least two competitions. No shop bought costumes - both home made and recorded for posterity in two small black and white snap shots.
These were taken outside our house at Sand Aire, one of a row of cottages that were demolished to make way for the new modern Provincial Insurance building (now "luxury" flats and penthouses).