Another working week began with me praying that Dell computers still sent out engineers to do site visits, It also began with me spending the morning finishing restoring on my old laptop to make sure it could keep me working until they did. To be fair the old machine was still serviceable – just ‘delicate’ and unable to operate without mains power as the battery was fried. It took me a couple of hours to reinstall various software and backups to make sure it was OK, which wasn’t time I was expecting to spend but it kept me busy until the Dell offices opened. I’ve always had service contracts on my machines that mean engineers do home calls rather than my kit having to be sent away. It’s a worthwhile expense and it proved so in this case. I spoke to a very lovely Indian lady who assured me that Dell engineers were still doing home calls and that they’d have someone out with me tomorrow (Tuesday) which was reassuring. Despite trying to power up the new machine and going through all the BIOS checks it looked almost certain the motherboard would need replacing. It’s bit of a bugger in a machine only a few months old, but that’s life. My last Dell developed a similar fault in the first couple of months them performed faultlessly (despite the battering it took) for the next four years until retirement.

With all this going on the day absolutely flew by. It was another beautifully sunny one but the biting wind I’d encountered on Sunday had hung around and even managed to inveigle its way down the side of the valley, so I was quite happy losing track of time in the office.

When I did venture out for the daily diet of park life and woodland walking Dawn and I combined it with a stroll to our local Tescos to pick up some supplies. It’s a far healthier way of going shopping than using the car and it kills two birds with one stone – you even get a bit of weight-bearing exercise thrown in by carrying all the bottles and tins back in rucsacs, making it a winner all round.

With having to rely on a less than reliable computer I knocked writing and picture scanning on the head. Instead I had a decluttering session in an effort to sort out some of those projects there’s never time for. I have three other old laptops cluttering up the place. My old one’s used to be handed on to Dawn for her personal use but work have provided her with some new kit so she no longer needs them. An old HP netbook that I used to travel with as a backup and a 12yr old Sony Vaio are now off for scrap, sans hard-drives which I’ve destroyed. I’ve kept the last machine (another, more recent Vaio) purely because it’s got a DVD player and I’d got piles of old pictures backed up on DVDs that I’d never had time copy and stick on hard-drives. Back in 2004-05 which is when they date from it was easy to use DVDs for storage. Picture files were smaller and portable hard drives were expensive but just a few years later with the price of hard-drives tumbling and reliability improving it made no sense to use DVDs. So whilst I’ve been doing other things this old laptop’s been whirring away on a filing cabinet, copying pictures – some of which I’ve not looked at for 10-15 years. Here’s an example. This was taken by a Spanish friend who was staying with is in North London back in October 2004. It shows me editing pictures at my desk. My, how many memories this brings back!

PA150179. Me at home in Inderwick. 19.10.2004

Despite the fact I’d gone digital 6 months before it’s clear how much clutter around me is due to taking slides. The rows of albums on the top shelf, the one in front of me, the blue boxes of slides above my head, the slide scanner, rows of undeveloped film and the lightbox. Oh, and all those DVD’s I’m just getting rid of now? Look to my right! As for my laptop – I can’t even remember that one now – although it’ll have been the first one I bought to go digital with, as the desktop setup could go nowhere.

Wanting a break from technology old and new I retreated to the garden bench for the sunset, when the view across the valley’s sublime. It’s made even better nowadays by the lack of traffic and the cars that used to use or road as a rat-run to escape the main roads nearby. I don’t miss them and It’ll be lovely if they never come back. Quite what permanent changes we may see to travel patterns (if any) is open to question, but I’d love to see any that mean we rely less on cars.

Our evening was spent with me deciding to do some cooking rather than just dig stuff out of the freezer so I tried a different cumin spiced chicken dish that I’d never cooked before. It was similar to a Korma in that it was creamy, but it had an underlying kick and extra nuttiness due to the cumin and chilis. Whilst I was busy in the kitchen Dawn had set up a ‘Zoom’ meeting with her parents in Huddersfield and her brother and his family down in Farnham so I dipped in and out of this as the cooking permitted. We had a very pleasant, domesticated and family-orientated evening before having an early night .

Tomorrow the Dell engineer arrives and my stress levels should decrease. Here’s hoping…