Hartley Wintney in Spring

The Church Oak
The Church Oak

Nos habebit humus, nos habebit humus

Just back from the village shops, where I bought a thoughtful ice-cream.

Big thoughts. Small ice-cream.

Walking back I looked up, and the sky tonight is blazing with stars; all I need is a winter night sky to be thirteen again, suffering insomnia and fairly convinced that with the impending death of Brezhnev I would die in some fireball; this neurosis a side-effect of reading up on nuclear physics aged 12 before I was equipped to deal with geopolitics.

This is why I know my way around the night sky – being awake late and with nothing to do in rural Worcestershire.

Orion, Canis Major, Canis Minor – how can anyone make two dots into an entire dog – Taurus, Aries, Perseus, Cassiopeia… and when you reach the cover of the trees you can just make out Praesepe/M44 in Cancer. And you walk past the church and the organist is practicing actual church music, not yet succumbing to the Star Wars March which she/he plays when feeling whimsical.

Being alive is good, not least because the alternative is boring:

Gaudeamus igitur.
Iuvenes dum sumus.
Post iucundam iuventutem.
Post molestam senectutem.
Nos habebit humus,
Nos habebit humus.

Let us rejoice,
while we’re young;
after a pleasant youth,
and a troublesome old age,
we shall be in the earth,
pushing up daisies.

…taking a little bit of liberty on that last line.

Party on, dudes.

Skodas, Car Batteries, Sleet and Hot Chocolate

My Skoda Octavia has been bombproof for over 10 years – with the exception of being hit by third parties the only issues have been with door-windows dropping out of their raising-mechanism seats.

However a fault with the central locking this week drained the battery – or so I thought. This morning a neighbour and I tried jumpstarting it but he MX-5 – albeit equipped with a new battery – was not able to turn over the hefty 1.9L VAG TDi.  I considered stripping the battery out until I found the battery clip’s retainer bolt corroded in place, with which I did not want to mess while it was raining.

So I called the AA – who after taking £130 of my earth pounds upgraded me to “Home Start” and sent an engineer who arrived within 20 minutes.  Colour me impressed.

Diagnosis: there is a fault with the central locking, yes, but the battery itself is naturally shot. We jumped it, tested it, and basically it’s a replacement job; thus I drove to Aldershot, left the car with my favourite Skoda service team with a ticklist of issues, and Brompton’d a mile or two to Aldershot station there to catch a bus home.

Then it started sleeting. Wet, nasty stuff.

The trains were/are up the duff due to a broken-down engine somewhere, so I was doubly happy to be taking the bus. Stayed in the station for 30 mins watching the wet flakes go plop, got my bus, and one hour later, via a roundabout route, I’m home. And freezing.


  • a walnut-sized chunk of bitter cooking chocolate
  • 3x teaspoons of dark raw muscovado sugar
  • 1x teaspoon spanish cocoa mix (ie: cocoa and a touch of cornflour)
  • mug of milk
  • into saucepan, whisk while bringing to just below simmer, allow the cornflour to thicken slightly.
  • Serve in mug.

…which is what I am sipping now. The world is a nicer place. It may involve a duvet a bit later on.

Self-assessment tax forms can wait for tomorrow.