Welcome to our newest reader, our neighbour Amanda. Google has worked out that she and I share the same post code, and have started "serving" her a link to my blog. So although she does not seem to be interested in Earth Science, she has to both look at my antennas and be pursued by my blog.
I do dislike that word "served", meaning that the internet providers throw advertisements at us.
You can tell it is the holiday season from my conversation with Mrs FVM.
Her "Please get the cob nuts out of the garage"
Me "There are no cob nuts in the garage"
Her "Yes there are, they are in the cupboard marked 'apples'".
Of course. Why didn't I think of that? I had never thought to look for the nuts in the cupboard marked apples. I did not pursue it, because I know that the real reason why the nuts are filed under apples is that the rest of the garage is full of antennas, bits of antennas, and aluminium poles. No doubt if there was room, there would be a cupboard marked "nuts".
The cob nuts in question are otherwise known as hazel nuts. We have two hazel trees, and the nuts from both are stored in one string bag in a cupboard marked "apples". One of the trees produces wonderful nuts, the other one produces wonderful shells with no nut inside. You have to crack them open and find out which type you have in your hand. You could sort them out as you picked them, but that would take the surprise out of cracking them on New Year's Day.
So nuts are a seasonal treat in the FVM household. Another thing we harvest ourselves is soft fruit, such as apples for crumbles. We also grow raspberries and strawberries. Some of the strawberry crop is frozen to make Cranachan. Cranachan is a local winter pudding made of raspberries (fresh is best, but frozen is OK), oat meal, whipped cream and whisky. The raspberries are home grown, and the other ingredients come from within 20 miles or so. It is a bit like boozy "Eton Mess". A real treat at Christmas and New Year.
New Year is a big thing round here. Know as "The Bells", many people wait in the frozen air for midnight to toast the New Year in with copious quantities of whisky. In my childhood, it was the tradition that people would call at your house bringing gifts of lumps of coal and small bottles of whisky. In exchange for this, my father would treat them to large tumblers full of his whisky. As a child, this spectacle was a bit scary, as drunken strangers would pound round the house at 2am, falling over the dog and breaking the crockery. They used to sing out of tune and dance about, giving me a life-long dislike of seeing in the New Year.
But never mind about that. Happy New Year to all our interested readers (and Amanda). It was good fun on VHF over the New Year period, but accounts of that will have to wait.
It would be wrong of me to name anyone as having been particularly helpful, as I am bound to miss someone. But I still will. I hope that does not leave anyone feeling missed out, as you can blame my memory or lack of it. So I will deal with groups of you.
Thanks to those of you who just read the posts (tens of thousands of hits!). Best wishes for the new year to the silent majority.
Thanks to those of you who sit on hill tops and freeze in the cause of VHF, or operate long hours in contests to give me elusive grid squares (and this group includes Gordon G8PNN, Eddie G0EHV, Andy GM4JR and many others).
To some fellow VHF experimenters around me who I have never met but who still offer advice and are willing to do endless tests (such as Chris GM4ZJI and Rob 2E1IIP), many good wishes of the season.
Warm felicitations to that fine bunch of people who listen for my data signals for hours on end, (particularly Henning, OZ1JXY, Jerzy SP9HWY, P.O. SM5EPO, and all the world-wide WSPR mob).
Thanks to those of you who emailed me and to some who pulled me up on things or made me think a bit more (including Richard GI4DOH, Gianfranco IU1DZZ and Roger MI6USC).
Special thanks to those of you who came round to see me, sat in coffee shops at garden centres and blethered, bartered accessories, climbed poles and drilled holes (particularly Doug GM6ZFI and Derrick GM4CXP).
Appreciation also goes to Bri, G0MJI, who encouraged me to write in the first place.
And thanks too for my "mentor" Bob G3KML who discussed the finer points of wave theory, mag loop antennas and so forth, at great length, many times this year.
Plus special thanks to everybody else too.
As you sit and enjoy your New Year festivities, maybe not Cranachan and nuts, or maybe not at home but in Gran Canaria or some other wonderful winter holiday location, please accept my thanks for all your support.
Have a great New Year, everybody.
CUAGN in 2016.